By EMMA HAMBURG/Montana State News

The sun is out with the Bobcat stadium full of fans who gather in anticipation of this season’s first home game. For most of the college students this is another event where they can party with friends and tailgating, but not for Jakob McCarthy. Instead his mind is far from the partying scene. He is focused and eager to walk onto the field. Suddenly, the crowd becomes silent in his mind.  He only is focused on starting his first Gold Rush as a Montana State Bobcat.

Fast-forward six months, on a cold but manageable day when winter and spring are mixed.  It is too cold to be outside, yet nice enough to want to go out.  Some students take advantage of this season by skiing, snowboarding, and continuing the party lifestyle of college.  Meanwhile, Jakob is still committed to his sport same as always.  He wakes up at 5 a.m. each weekday to train for spring ball. According to friends, Jakob often he seems extroverted, dedicated and hilarious, making him an easy person to talk to.

Football, has always been a defining variable in Jakob’s life. Beginning in his childhood in Fullerton, California, and continuing all the way to the final season of his collegiate career, football has always been something he could count on. Shortly after high school, Jakob attended Fullerton community college where he played for two years, then after at the age of 23 he transferred to Montana State.

When asked why he chose Montana his answer was simple. He initially came for the football but stayed because he was captured by the uniqueness and beauty of Bozeman.

“I had never been to Montana before I was offered to play out here. At first I was hesitant since it was so vastly different than my home, but now I cannot imagine finishing college anywhere else.” He explained how each team brings with it new people; they become like his family, a unit of coaches and students brought together by their mutual admiration of the sport.

His athletic journey is especially unique because he isn’t alone in his journey. Jakob’s  twin brother, Lukas McCarthy, also plays football for Montana State University. When asked about how this impacted his football career Jakob said, “It was always important to my brother and I that we stayed together, I have never been on a team without him. He helps to motivate me and keep me on track.”

The two have never gone to a school without each other, so when he says his teammates are like family, he means it.

When I asked Jakob’s twin about his brother he gave a sarcastic and witty answer: “he’s a great guy, and I see myself in him.”  Lukas went on to say much of what Jakob had already told me, that his brother was always there for him and that football was more than just the sport, it was family.

While multiple benefits come with being a student-athlete, Jakob also discussed the many difficulties it brings along with it: “football can be extremely time-consuming. You have to be passionate, or it is not worth it.”

However, Jakob said this regimented schedule keeps him busy and on the right track. “It teaches you time management and allows you to understand how to balance multiple tasks, just as you would in everyday life.”

Being a collegiate athlete has been the defining variable of Jakob’s journey in higher education. It taught him many critical life skills that will follow him throughout his future endeavors. “Football has made me who I am today, and even when I finish my career, I know it will not leave me.”

It was refreshing to meet a student so passionate and so driven whose happiness is contagious. He is the kind of person you want to get to know better.

– edited by Jackson Nolde

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