With Love from Japan
Jacob Love (BA ‘12, MBA ’13) was scheduled to return to his role in Japan with the United States Forces on Sept. 2. Upon discovering UIW football opened its season a day later, he extended his visit to Texas to support the program he helped build.
“Know that what you’re doing with your time at UIW is a good thing! You’ll realize later in life that your memories there will be some of the happiest you have.”
These are the words of 33-year-old UIW alumnus Jacob Love, BA ‘12, MBA ‘13, who is now serving in Japan with the U.S. Forces as a contracting officer.
Love, a standout student-athlete in the Cardinals’ inaugural football roster, was visiting his family in San Antonio this summer when he saw a social media post for UIW’s opening football game on Sept. 3. There was only one problem. His flight back to Japan was on Sept. 2...
He said ”I didn’t even think about it! I saw the post on Instagram and changed my flights right then and there. I had to extend my stay. I wasn’t going to miss this game.”
Luckily, the Cardinal football team didn’t disappoint as Love watched UIW outscore No. 9 Southern Illinois 64-29.
The road to the program’s current success began in 2007 when UIW announced the launch of the University’s new team. Just two years later in 2009, Love and his teammates began to pave the way as the Cardinals’ first recruiting class.
He recalls times were harder for the program when it first started out, but during tough times, strong bonds were formed. Love is now a proud member of the Forever First Foundation.
"It was good to see the team win,” Love said. “What a game. It wasn’t this easy when we were playing! There were some hard times building the program. We were the first recruiting class and there weren’t any upper classman to lean on and learn from. We were it.
“But by going through that experience, we all bonded in a big way – by going through something difficult to lay the foundations for something special to be built.”
The themes of shared experiences and collective achievements are also present in how he perceives the culture in the place he now calls home.
As Love sat and enjoyed watching his alma mater play a top-10 ranked team, he reflected on the differences between the United States and Japan, offering a fascinating observation on the western individual mindset versus the eastern collective culture.
“The split in the team I manage is around 70% Japanese and 30% American. And there is a difference in how I motivate these two groups as a leader in the workforce. In the US, we celebrate individuals, especially in sports. We idolize those who chart their own path, and this individual recognition is what drives people. In Japan, we celebrate group cohesion and a collective orientation. We’re motivated to play a part in the group succeeding.
“Playing team sports in college helped me so much to understand these approaches. In sport, you want to win, play well individually and show love to all your teammates for the result.”
Love graduated with his B.A. in Business Administration at UIW in 2012 and has fond memories of his time on campus and in the classroom.
“It was fun man! Something was always happening; we were always running around the dorms. It was the best part of my life. The friends we made will forever be our friends.
"Classes were great, too. I remember Earl Harmsen, Management Science, had a reputation for being a tough professor. But let me tell you…he is the most sincere teacher I’ve ever had. He poured himself into class, took his craft seriously and wanted to challenge you.
“As an athlete, I recognized and respected him for giving his all. I was talking to him at the game and telling him I use the stat models he taught me on a regular basis in my job now.”
It was only 12 months after collecting his BA that Love was next walking the stage to collect an MBA he earned at UIW through an internship with the U.S. Air Force.
His father, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and former state champion in track and field, served in Japan during Love’s youth, although he remembers a different experience than the one he’s living now.
“It motivated me to go back because we didn’t really experience the Japanese culture too much as a family when we were there. All we did was sports, sports, sports. I never experienced the full culture because sports were the key focus for me and my dad.
“The culture here is amazing. People in the U.S. know southern hospitality. But over there, the respect and humility everyone shows to each other is ridiculous. Being African American in Japan has been interesting because it’s an isolated island culture, but the way they treat all people with honor is unreal. You feel welcome the moment you’re arrive.”
Love moved from Japan back to San Antonio in his junior year of high school, starring for the Warren High School football team before being recruited to a junior college in Chicago. When he transferred to UIW, it was an accomplishment he’d worked long and hard to achieve.
“It was my dream to play college football. And coming back to play for UIW in San Antonio really was a dream come true.”
After living out some of his dreams, Love encourages UIW students to follow their own dreams, but he also doesn’t want them to forget to live in the present.
‘‘When you’re young and a student, you’re always looking forward, looking to the future. My advice is to be present, look to live and learn in the present moments. Those moments at UIW have matured me and helped make me who I am today.”