Jake Taber ‘04 is guiding the Hope College men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams through uncharted waters right now with determination, flexibility and a smile.
Despite this fall’s unprecedented, COVID-19 impacted semester, he wants a similar transformational experience for his student-athletes that he enjoyed at his alma mater.
Taber, who’s in his third season as head coach, chatted with sports information director Alan Babbitt this week on the Hope Athletics Orange and Blue Podcast.
“I’m all smiles thinking back on those things, I know what the student-athlete experience at Hope can be. I lived it. I lived it for four years,” Taber said. “As (wife) Kelly (Kraft) and I talked about her student-athlete experience on the softball team and compared notes to mine here in this program, we both felt the same way. It’s an absolutely transformational experience. It changed our lives and for the better.
“I will joke and tell people on the team, when you graduate, if your experience here was half as good as what mine was, making the decision to come to Hope and swim here was an absolute no brainer and the best decision you could have made. Truthfully, knowing what the experience can be makes it that much more exciting: to be intentional, to try and provide that for each and every student-athlete that we have the chance to work with.”
Taber also chats on the Orange and Blue Podcast after his Hope love story with wife, Kelly, began after they graduated. It’s now grown into a family of six, including two children who started competitive swimming last winter.
“Life is busy. Life is awesome,” Taber said.
Rising to the Challenge
This semester has been a training one for the Hope’s swimming and diving teams. Meets have been postponed due to the pandemic.
Taber is proud of his swimmers and divers, and coaching staff, have risen to the challenge.
“We’re excited. We really are,” Taber said. “We’re a young team. We’re training at a pretty high level and trying to find and maintain the right balance, in terms of promoting mental health as well as rest and staying on top of our academics. It’s a little bit of a challenge more this year than others, but it’s going well. We’ve got a resilient group.
“One of the skill sets that we’re tasked with as far as mentoring and leading these student-athletes is perseverance. Boy, this is a year maybe more than any other where that’s absolutely at the forefront of where we are. We’re doing the best we can with what we’ve got right now.”