I t’s nearly a month before Carney-Nadeau’s season opener against Rapid River and Jake Polfus is ready to reflect as he prepares for his 11th season as C-N’s head coach. He comfortably leans back in his chair inside an office, just steps away from the entrance to the hallowed gym as balls bounce and shots are thrown up by those still lingering inside. It’s a common occurrence for this small but basketball-crazed town where white t-shirts with a big “3” plastered on the front are worn with a sense of pride and a key to the gym is readily available for those looking to shoot around.
“The key is on my counter at my dad’s house,” said Jake, whose dad Paul lives a walk away from the school. “They just walk right in, don’t even have to knock. Kids are here at 6 in the morning until late at night sometimes.”
That’s just a glimpse into the basketball culture at Carney-Nadeau, and it’s what Jake has experienced throughout his life. First, as a kid while his dad led the varsity boys and girls programs, then as a player before eventually returning to take over for his dad as a coach. In those 10 years, there’s been success and there’s been drama, occasionally at the same time. There’s been the bottle incident, the Class C thing, and of course, his emotional sideline outbursts, which are theater in themselves and eagerly brought up by his detractors from other towns.
When you look at his success, his name and his fiery personality, it all goes into making Jake Polfus one of the most polarizing coaches in the UP.