MOUNT PLEASANT - Jake Sabol had already done a bit of coaching before stepping to the podium at the introductory press conference as the next head coach of the Central Michigan University baseball program. During his press conference on Thursday, he got his young daughter to speak a phrase she had been practicing all week.
“Fire up Chips,” exclaimed Parker Sabol from the front row.
The Chippewa Alum was overcome with emotion a couple of times during his prepared remarks after being formally introduced as the program’s 22nd manager. Sabol was a pitcher for Central Michigan from 2007-2011.
“It was the people, you know, and a lot of those people that I’m really close with still today, guys that were in my wedding, guys that I had on my former coaching staff. They made my experience, and the coaches, the people that poured so much into me as a player in my development,” said Sabol.
He added, “I’m not the player I was, and the coach I am, without that support in my life. So that was a big deal. But also this place, you know, it’s a great place to be a student athlete. I’m just super thrilled to be back here to do that all over again.”
He comes to Mt. Pleasant after spending the last four-plus seasons at the helm of Northwood University, a Division II program in Midland. He led the Timberwolves to four NCAA Division II Regional appearances while amassing a 140-90-1 record.
“We did a national search. It’s kind of ironic that you end up in your backyard with the person down the road,” said Central Michigan Director of Athletics Amy Folan. “We went all over. And the best person for us happened to be Jake. But I think it really is a testament to what he’s achieved. And what we think of him as a coach, because it was competitive. We’ve been at the top of the MAC, and we’ve been to the NCAAs in the last three out of four years. And we think he’s the guy to do it.”
Sabol succeeds his former boss, Jordan Bischel. The two worked together at Northwood in 2015 before Bischel left to take the head coaching assignment at CMU. After four seasons with the Chippewas, Bischel recently left the program to take over the baseball team at the University of Cincinnati.
“Coach Bischel and I worked together for a year, there’s some things that that I really enjoyed learning from him that I’ve incorporated into my program, but also it’s gonna be a little different, too,” said Sabol.
“I told our guys throughout the week, as I’ve talked to them, I want to this to be a collaborative effort, I want to work together, I want to keep the foundation of things that you guys really enjoy doing while you’re here. But also, I’m gonna bring some new ideas to the table, because I feel like you know, I’m really passionate about what they are and how they can help us moving forward.”
Interestingly, he is now the third straight coach to come to Central Michigan from Northwood, following Bischel, and Sabol’s former head coach Steve Jaska.
“I’ve known him a long time, since the time we recruited him until now,” said Jaksa at the introductory press conference. “I actually have had a chance to coach against him a little bit, watch him coach, and watch how he handles his team. There’s so much I’ve learned about him. This young man is ready for this job, I can tell you that much. He has done a good job everywhere he’s been.”
Sabol was a four-year letter earner for the Chippewas. He was part of a CMU team that won the Mid-American Conference regular season title in 2010. He twice earned the conference’s pitcher of the week honors, and he was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 2011 Major League Baseball draft. He spent his professional playing time between the Gulf Coast League Tigers, the Connecticut Tigers and finally the Traverse City Beach Bums.
“I think it’s a little different when you go and coach somewhere, that’s your alma mater, right? I think it just becomes a little bit more important. You tend to work a little bit harder. You tend to pour that blood sweat and tears in,” Sabol said. “And I think my guys are going to relate really well to me knowing that I’ve been through that. I know what it means I know what you’re going through. Let’s work together to be successful and have a great experience.”