A humble three-sport standout, Cole caps Stark career with CHaD All-Star Football Game

  • John Stark’s Jake Cole (24) looks for running room against Alvirne during an Oct. 14, 2018, game in Weare. Cole led all of Division II in rushing last season with 1,302 yards. He was also a captain for the Stark-Hopkinton ice hockey team that won a second straight D-III title in March and a captain for the Stark baseball team that reached the D-II semifinals. Cole will play for Team West in Saturday’s 2019 CHaD NH East-West High School All-Star Football Game, scheduled to start at 6 p.m. at the University of New Hampshire’s Wildcat Stadium. RICH MIYARA file photo / NH Sports Photography

  • John Stark-Hopkinton defenseman Jake Cole (55) checks Kennett forward Miles Woodbury during the second period of a Division III boys’ hockey quarterfinal at New England College on March 2. Cole was a captain for the General Hawks, who won a second straight D-III title in March. He also led all of Division II in rushing last season with 1,302 yards for the Stark football team, and he was a captain for the Stark baseball team that reached the D-II semifinals. Cole will play for Team West in Saturday’s 2019 CHaD NH East-West High School All-Star Football Game, scheduled to start at 6 p.m. at the University of New Hampshire’s Wildcat Stadium. GEOFF FORESTER file photo / Monitor staff

  • John Stark’s Jake Cole (left) follows Concord’s Adrian Kennedy during a CHaD football practice last weekend at Manchester Memorial High School in Manchester. Cole was a three-sport star at Stark – football, hockey and baseball – and will play in the 2019 CHaD NH East-West High School All-Star Football Game on Saturday at the University of New Hampshire’s Wildcat Stadium. Kick off is scheduled for 6 p.m. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • John Stark’s Jake Cole takes a cut during a May 13 game against ConVal in Weare. Cole was a three-sport star at Stark – football, hockey and baseball – and will play in the 2019 CHaD NH East-West High School All-Star Football Game on Saturday at the University of New Hampshire’s Wildcat Stadium. Kick off is scheduled for 6 p.m. RICH MIYARA / NH Sports Photography

Monitor staff
Published: 6/28/2019 10:55:21 PM

Looking for a three-sport role model for high school athletes? Look no further than Jake Cole.

To start his senior year at John Stark, Cole was a First Team Division II South selection after leading all of D-II in rushing with 1,302 yards and leading the Generals to a 6-3 regular season and a spot in the quarterfinals. In the winter, Cole was a Second Team D-III defenseman for a Stark-Hopkinton ice hockey team that went 20-1 and won a second straight title. This spring, he was a Third Team D-II center fielder for the Generals as they went 16-3 and reached the semifinals.

“That’s what’s really missing in high school sports now are even two-sport athletes, and for him to play three and not to do the club hockey or fall baseball, it’s huge for us, especially being a pretty small school, we need those kind of kids to play multiple sports,” Stark football coach Kevin McGinty said. “He’s an excellent example of how you don’t have to be a club-sport kid to succeed.”

Cole’s athleticism will be on display Saturday at the University of New Hampshire’s Wildcat Stadium in the CHaD NH East-West High School All-Star Football Game. Cole will be focused on football during his post-graduate year at Proctor Academy, and he’s hoping to play college football somewhere, but appreciated how the three-sport approach helped his athletic development.

“I think playing three sports helps the mental side, it really lets you get into the games,” Cole said.

The diversity of his three high school sports showcases the depth of Cole’s abilities. He has a rare combination of physicality, skill, quickness, hand-eye coordination, footwork and vision.

“Jake can do a lot, that’s for sure,” Stark baseball coach Dennis Pelletier said. “He’s a great athlete.”

There is also a crossover between the three sports, especially when you consider Cole’s defensive football position is free safety. As a baseball center fielder, hockey defenseman and football defensive back, Cole has to decipher the opposing offense and keep things in front of him.

“For all three it’s all about reading where the play is going to go and then stepping up on it,” Cole said.

“I love free safeties that are center fielders in baseball,” McGinty said.

Hockey was Cole’s first love. He took to the pace and physicality of the game, and he was inspired by his older cousin, Erik Cole, who played in the NHL for 18 years and was on the Carolina Hurricanes team that won the 2006 Stanley Cup.

Jake didn’t get the hockey recognition he may have deserved playing for the General Hawks. That’s due in part to his position and in part to the talented teammates who grabbed lots of attention. But Stark-Hopkinton coach Denis Kolehmainen knows how important Cole was to his team’s success.

“He was a huge reason why we won the last two state championships, his defensive play. He was probably the best defenseman in D-III this year, and he was one of the best in D-III last year and he didn’t even get on any all-state team,” Kolehmainen said. “He was our unsung hero, that’s a really good description of him.”

That’s also the description he would like. Without being asked, McGinty, Pelletier and Kolehmainen all praised Cole’s humility, personality and leadership.

Pelletier talked about how kind Cole was as a senior welcoming freshmen to Stark this year, including Pelletier’s daughter. Kolehmainen was reveling in Cole’s ability to check on the ice or hit on the football field, “he puts a shoulder into you and that’s it, you’re not going anywhere,” but in the next breath the coach was talking about how inclusive he was with every member of the team, from the starters to the last player on the bench.

“He keeps the kids up all the time,” Pelletier said. “He’s an all-around good kid, a good student, a good person. You just can’t say enough nice things about him. He’s a special kid.”

McGinty went to a single-wing offense this fall in order to feature Cole’s running ability. The coach didn’t think it would work with many other kids, but not for the reason you might think. Yes, Cole’s physical talent made him an ideal focal point for an offense, but it was his personality that made the old-school offense click.

“For us to shift to go to an offense that really is featuring one guy 90% of the time, you had a lot of guys that had to sacrifice and put their stats aside so the team would win. And I don’t think that some of those guys that made those sacrifices would have done that for another guy,” McGinty said. “But because Jake is such a great kid, and because he’s humble and always deferring to his teammates, that made it more acceptable to them. In football you have to have guys that sacrifice for the good of the team, and Jake brought that out in his teammates.”

So it’s not surprising that when he was asked about playing in the CHaD game, Cole immediately mentioned one of those teammates. Lineman Noah Bellemore opened a lot of the holes that Cole ran through for the Generals, and Bellemore was also selected to play for Team West, marking the first time in program history that two Stark players were picked for the all-star game.

“It’s a great opportunity for me and my buddy Noah, he also got picked,” Cole said. “So I’m pretty happy about that.”

The rest of Team West should be happy they get to play with someone like Jake Cole.

(Tim O’Sullivan can be reached at 369-3341 or tosullivan@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @timosullivan20)




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