By Indiana State University
Jun 4, 2020
Everyone loves the story of the comeback kid, the hero of the story who goes through a tough run and comes out on top despite all odds, who bends destiny to suit their purposes rather than allowing it to bend them. Jacob Harden is just that character. A sports management major, hailing from Brazil, Ind., Jacob has had a long road running up to his graduation from Indiana State University, and he has earned every bit of the success he has won for himself.
Long before college, at the age of 16, what most would still consider childhood, Jacob had to have open heart surgery. Something that he was told would affect the rest of his life in athletics, and just living in general. He knew it would be something that challenged him, but he refused to allow it to slow him down. Jacob has a passion for baseball, and wanted to keep pushing through with it, which is just what he did. When asked what was it like having this big of a moment at such a young age, Jacob simply laughed and responded, “It’s just my crazy puzzle of a life. The pieces didn’t seem like they’d fit right at first, but after giving it some time and work, they fit just fine the way they are.”
The next leg of Jacob’s journey took him to IU Southeast, where he played baseball for a year. However, struggles with homesickness, as well as a death in the family led Jacob to take a step back, to transfer to Vincennes Junior College to try and get a fresh start. Jacob played ball there for a year, all the while reaching out to various schools, looking for someone to take a chance on him, which is when he found ISU. Jacob had never actually toured ISU, though he knew about it since in his hometown lots of people who graduated went here. Jacob accepted the offer and made his way ‘home’ to ISU. He spent a year playing for ISU before his heart gave him trouble once again. Jacob was told he wouldn’t be able to play anymore, but still asked to manage the team, desiring to still find a way to be a part of the team.
Jacob’s story, however isn’t just about baseball. He has participated in quite a few ways on campus, one of these being the Sport Management Case Study Bowl, a huge competition in Chicago where Jacob showed off his ability to sell not only himself, but an idea to a real company. Competing against 16 teams from all over the world, he took a problem that he was given on a Monday and had to have it solved and ready to present to the board by that same Wednesday. Jacob also went to the athletic department, wanting to set up a Heart Awareness Night during one of the home basketball games. He spearheaded the initiative and along with some help from faculty, made it happen. He said it was an awesome experience to be out on the court, and to see all of his work come together.
Jacob also talked about how ISU has prepared him for his life in the field, along with help from Matt Blaszka, he landed an internship at Strive 365 and it has helped him immerse himself in the field he hopes to one day work in. The three professors that really pushed Jacob during his time at ISU were Matt Blaszka, Craig Morehead, and Chad Witkemper. Jacob said all three pushed him day in and out to be a better student and to find his success one day.
When asked what Indiana State meant to him, Jacob lit up with passion. Jacob said that he aspires to one day be the ‘new Mitch Hannahs’, head baseball coach at ISU. He wants to coach D1 and someday be able to do for someone what Coach Hannahs did for him. Blue for Jacob was opportunity, a chance being given when everyone else turns their gaze and walks away. That opportunity and that passion were not wasted either, going into second semester of his final year here at State, Jacob secured a job helping to coach his old high school team. Unfortunately due to COVID-19, Jacob was unable to, however he didn’t let that slow him down. Jacob kept working at his future and he will be coaching the Wabash Valley Rex this summer. Jacob’s story is one of trial, of being tossed into a crucible and coming out the other end something new. When asking Jacob what words he had to share with anyone who might read this piece he responded with a simple, but powerful statement:
“I think my story is one that can show people if you choose to let nothing hold you back then nothing will. The ‘never give up mentality’ that I had gained at a young age was what gave me the determination to get where I am today. I have this saying, and I hope it’s a famous one someday, but it’s what I say before every game and every practice. It goes like this, ‘If you think you can, then you might, you have a shot at getting everything you want. But if you think you can’t, you won’t, you’ve already lost your dream before it even had a chance to start.”