Jake Gilbert ’98 was recently highlighted as one of the best high school head coaches in the nation and was chosen as the midwest region’s winner of the American Football Coaches Association’s Power of Influence Award.
Gilbert is the Dean of Wellness, Connections and Growth, department head for physical education and best known as the varsity football coach who led Westfield High School to an IHSAA state championship in 2016.
He joined the staff 10 years ago, and previously taught U.S. government and leadership classes at the school.
Coaches who receive the Power of Influence Award are recognized for their impact on their team, as well as the legacy they leave with the school and surrounding community, according to a news release. This award is not based on wins and losses; however, it should be noted that coaches of powerful influence have longevity and success.
“This makes him one of five finalists in the entire country for the national award,” Westfield High School officials wrote in a Facebook post. “This award is the highest honor given to a high school coach. Congratulations, Jake!!”
In addition to coaching and teaching, Gilbert has been a Fellowship of Christian Athletes sponsor since 2012 and created a Freshman Mentor Program and Life Ready Initiative at Westfield. He’s also hosted Special Olympic football clinics, raised money to tackle childhood cancer, led a mission trip to Haiti and helps support the Indiana Blood Center.
Gilbert and other winners were honored during a virtual AFCA Convention in January.
During his time at Wabash College, where he was a member of Phi Delta Theta and graduated cum laude with a major in history, Gilbert was an all-conference and honorable mention All-American defensive lineman. He served as an assistant coach for Wabash’s football team from 2006 until 2011.