IUPUI Soccer Coach's message to the School of Social Work: I am part of you-you are part of me

Minutes before IUPUI Soccer Coach Isang Jacob's team was due on the field, he took time out to meet with alumni, faculty and staff from the Indiana University School of Social Work and told them, "I am part of you. You are part of me."

Dean Patchner and Coach IsangJacob’s reasoning was simple. He is a 1997 Master of Social Work graduate and his experience and education is a central part of his life.

“You don’t have to do what you do, but you need to do it because there is somebody you are touching, there is a life you are touching, there is a child you are touching,” Jacob noted. His remarks came during a School of Social Work chili dinner prior to the game on Nov. 9.

People who become social workers do so because they want to be in a helping profession or they are born into it, Jacob said. In his case, he figures he was practicing social work long before he got his degree. “I was the oldest of six. I lost my father young, so I had to raise my own siblings. I guess I started into social work before I even got out of college.”

Jacob, who is from Nigeria, started playing soccer when he was five. His mother had a fourth grade education and his father had a fifth grade education. “This (soccer) was my ticket out of poverty. He went on to play with the Nigerian national team as well as professionally in Texas and Indianapolis, where he played with the Blast. He looked into graduate programs at IUPUI and settled on social work.

He was working as an assistant soccer coach at Penn State when the coaching job at IUPUI opened up. “IUPUI is my foundation and home,” Jacob said. “I remember the people who took me in, like Dr. (Marion) Wagner.” When he returned to Indianapolis for his interview about the head coaching job, he stopped by the School of the Social Work. He spotted his Jacob his photo in the class photos that line the hallways. “It brought back tears,” Jacob said. “I mean that sincerely. I really didn’t know ifI was going to get a job when I graduated or go back home.”

When asked how he uses his social work skills as a coach, Jacob said treating players with respect is the key. “We should be our brothers keeper…our sister’s too.”

Whatever comes of his soccer coaching career, Jacob is certain about one thing. Social work will always be a guiding force in his life. “I will continue to lead my life as a social worker.”

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Rob Schneider
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