A birthday wish for Jacob Cofield
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Of the many wishes I have asked from my God on my birthday, one special one goes out for Jacob Theodore Cofield. Jacob, the son of Charlie and Sheila Cofield, is the star big man on this year’s Catholic Memorial High School basketball team.
I have known Jacob Cofield since the day he was born. I watched him grow from a gangly, high-energy man-child to the strapping 6-foot-9 young man he is today. Going into his senior season, Cofield, considered a “late-bloomer” by college recruiters, is coming off a junior year where he averaged 15 points and more than 15 rebounds a game for a team that finished the year with an 18-3 record and was ranked as high as no. 1 in the Massachusetts boys basketball rankings. Jacob was the centerpiece of that team.
Jacob, there is so much I want to tell you about the greatness from which you came, but this column is about you.
The Cofield family name is one of great distinction. Your great-grandfather, the late Reverend Jacob P. Cofield, saved souls for God. You have the honor of being named after him. Some people would consider that a gift and a burden. I pray that you will “embrace the gift” God has given you and maximize your potential.
Every time you step on a basketball court, you carry the name of Cofield from your father, mother, grandparents Seth Melvin Sr. and Anne Marie Cofield, and older siblings Charles Jr. and Ganese. And that is just part of a huge loving family whose emotions rise and descend on the activity of your everyday living experience. That is the burden that you must bear.
I used to eat meals in your grandparents’ restaurant. Mel’s Soul Food, prepared by your father — who, among his many titles, was a licensed chef, first Black business agent for the Massachusetts carpenters union, 10 years as commissioner of the Boston Employment Commission — and changed thousands of lives for people of color.
Oh, and by the way, he was one of the best big-man ballplayers to come out of Boston. In his words: “My only regret is that I did not graduate from college. My time in the National Guard helped me to take up carpentry. I have put in 38 hard years on the job. I have been a father to my children. I have raised my three children to be solid citizens. I will not let my son Jacob fail to get his college degree. (That’s) important for him, not for me. I don’t care how good a ballplayer he becomes; he must get his college degree.” Strong words from a man who is more than capable of backing them up.
A recent conversation with young Jacob, who is one inch taller than his father and is expected to reach a height of 6 feet, 10 inches, yielded the following: “My dream is to go pro someday, but at this moment, I want to stay relative (in the moment), which means getting a college degree.”
When asked about the pressures of playing big-time basketball, the mellow young man who inherits his calm and cool traits from his father said, “I don’t feel pressure playing basketball. I am much more nervous about my education. I want to be a dominant player every time I step on the court, and I want the same for my team. I want to enjoy all the experiences of high school and leave a positive mark at Catholic Memorial. But my most important goal is to graduate from college.”
When questioned about the pressures of his upcoming college life, young Jacob responded: “I am pretty much a quiet guy like my dad. I know that the social-life aspect of college can be a distraction, but I know what is expected of me. I am in college to get a degree, not to party and waste time.”
Catholic Memorial Coach, Dennis Tobin remarks that “when Jake transferred in last year, he was the missing piece that we needed. A Big man to protect the rim, get us ten rebounds a night and anchor the defense, which is exactly what he did. We ended up going 18-2 and winning the Catholic Conference.” He is going down south now to look at some HBCU’s that I think would be a great fit for him. A fine young man “
Young Jacob Cofield, as I close this letter, I will pray that all your wishes come true. You stay true to yourself and always remember your father’s words: “Be the best Jacob Cofield you can be every day of your life.”
Your father lives by the biblical code: Iron sharpens iron. I have seen his iron. I am waiting to see your iron. You must succeed at this task. You have to live up to the “Cofield code.”