This is part of a series of blogs from Noble campus representatives to give a deeper look at campus life.
A crowded gymnasium awaits in anticipation as the clock counts down. Five…Four…Three…Two…One! The buzzer sounds and the crowd erupts into a joyous uproar! Chicago Bulls College Prep cheerleaders bounce up and down. Parents and staff, there to watch the big game, yell out words of praise to the team still on the game floor. The players celebrate their win, patting each other on the back, smiling, and hugging. Their coach, Jacob Goldstein, joins them as they walk down the line to shake their opponents’ hands. This might seem like your typical basketball game win, but for Coach Goldstein, it was so much more.
This game last month marked Goldstein’s 100th win since he started coaching the Bulls Prep basketball team nine years ago. Goldstein said he is so proud of all his players for the work they put in this year. And his players are proud of him, too!
“Congrats on the 100 wins, Coach! I’m proud to be one of the players you’ve influenced and to be on the team,” said D. Nailer, one of this year’s varsity basketball team players, “You’ve taught me about accountability and being accountable for my actions. It’s okay to make mistakes, but be persistent and hardworking to make things right. You taught me to win, but win with gratitude. Win, but be humble.”
“Goldstein is a great coach! I want to say again congratulations on 100 wins! I’m glad to be on the team that got him to 100 wins,” said C. Pointer, another player, “I hope he keeps doing what he’s doing…He’s taught me to work hard in whatever I do, not just basketball — to make sure school comes first because you can’t play if you are doing bad in school. Working towards your best self comes first.”
We got the chance to sit down with Coach Goldstein to ask him about his origin story, what motivates him everyday, how he feels about winning 100 games, and what his plans are for the future.
Where did your love of basketball come from?
“Started when I was little. My dad taught me how to play. We used to go to the parks to play basketball. That was his way of connecting with me.”
Did you play basketball yourself? When, where, and for how long?
“I played in grade school, middle school, and high school. I also played in college at Oberlin College Ohio as a guard.”
How did you get into coaching?
“During junior year, I took a class at Oberlin that allowed me to tutor at a nearby school. I got to be an assistant coach there… After I graduated I went to work in Gary, Indiana for the Teach for America program. I coached fifth and sixth grade boys’ basketball teams and also was an assistant coach at the local high school. When I got hired at Bulls, I reached out to then head coach Jason Ronai (current Director of Fitness for Noble Schools) to ask about potential positions to help coach the team. I was an assistant for a few seasons and then became head coach.”
How does it feel to have gotten 100 wins?
“I don’t think I’ve looked at the wins as a personal accomplishment. I look at it more so as a milestone of how I have grown as a mentor for my players and how we have worked together to become a better team.”
What do you love most about being a coach?
“Teachable moments and the different players I get to work with. Getting to watch how basketball can help them become better and help them reach their goals as they enter and leave high school.”
What mental and physical preparations do you use for yourself to get prepared for a game? And then what do you have your players do to get prepared for a game?
“I work out every morning. It’s my way of processing what is going to happen for the day ahead. It allows me time to game plan and practice. I focus a lot on practice. Making the practice harder than the game, so that the real game seems easier…Traveling to games outside of Noble, I play music to get the students ready for the game. Putting focus on the different types of experiences they’ll have. (We) talk about the type of crowd they will face, the types of coaching styles they will see, and the feel of facing teams outside of the Noble Schools. (We) talk about the mindset that students need to be in before a game.”
Have you ever had a season that proved to be challenging? How did you overcome it? How did you get your players to push forward?
“In my second season as head coach, we were going 2 and 18. During that year, I started to question everything — all the decisions I was making as a coach. I struggled to keep myself and the team motivated. It made me rethink structure: how to develop the mental and physical skills of players, how JV and Varsity should be set up so that they could become skilled players. I had to find the positives, and a lot of those positives came from my players. That taught me a lot.”
What have your players taught you throughout the years as a coach?
“Don’t take myself too seriously — especially with coming back after the height of the pandemic. To take time to pause and have fun. With this season being the longest season – November to end of March – it’s important to just build in moments of joy.”
What are the things you try to instill in your players?
“Playing basketball at Bulls Prep is a commitment and they earn the right to play by being strong students. Student first. Make sure your grades are right and if that is not done, then they are held accountable for that… We want to make sure they are outstanding players if they get accepted to college as athletes, but also as academic students.”
Do you have a vision or goals for Bulls Basketball in the coming years?
“My goal is to get back to and win a regional championship. I’ve had multiple conversations with kids. We want to compete at Noble, but also want to compete with the top teams in the state. And win.”
For any student wanting to try out for the team next school year – what are you looking for in a potential player?
“Student first. Be a leader in the classroom. Take your academics seriously. Be a leader in the school. You have to want to make a commitment to be a strong player. Balance the practices and the amount of work we do. Have a desire to build skill and a drive to make yourself better.”
Winning 100 games as a basketball coach is an amazing accomplishment. But if you ask Coach Goldstein, winning 100 games is just the tip of the iceberg. He wants to see his players move on from Bulls Prep and succeed at life.
“It’s an honor to be a coach at Bulls. It’s an honor to work with so many guys and to see them grow and succeed. I am proud to have coached Coach Shamar King and Coach George Beecham, who were former Bulls students, and to see them come back as grown men and work on staff,” Coach Goldstein said.