Weehawken boys basketball coach Jake McNish remains humble in wake of 300th win

Weehawken boys basketball coach Jake McNish embraces several players after a game against Hoboken earlier this season. (Molly J. Smith/The Jersey Journal)

 By Garrett Rasko-Martinis/The Jersey Journal on  February 12, 2014

A game between Weehawken’s boys basketball team and Secaucus on Monday night may have appeared like any other game on its face.

And if Weehawken head coach Jake McNish had had his way, it would have stayed that way.

But an assistant coach on his staff realized that an Indians victory would secure win No. 300 for their head coach. So despite the unassuming coach’s plan to not inform his squad, the team and staff knew exactly what was at stake in a game at Secaucus High School.

Whether or not that spurred the team on, the coach who still gets nervous before games and giddy after wins, celebrated a monumental achievement with a 58-54 victory.

“I can’t really explain how it feels,” McNish said.

“It’s kind of like a numb feeling. It didn’t really hit home until yesterday afternoon. I’ve worked with a lot of good assistant coaches and had some great kids come through the program. And it was really touching when a lot of ex-players and guys I used to work with who have gone on to other head coaching jobs started texting me congratulations.

“I guess I got a little emotional — it’s a good feeling.”

McNish, now in his 20th season as head coach, has seen his share of ups and down at the helm of the Indians.

“But even during tougher seasons, the 54-year-old coach said, he’s never stopped being proud of his players’ efforts.

“We’ve had some really good teams with 20 wins or 25 wins, and some down years with five or six wins,” he said.

“But the one thing that’s been consistent is Weehawken kids always work hard and play hard. One thing I take great pride in is every coach we play tells me how hard our guys play.

“My whole tenure here, even when it was a down year, they go out and leave it on the floor.”

And he fondly remembers all those teams, especially his 1997-98 squad, which won the NJSIAA North 1, Group 1 title.

As he spoke Tuesday about that team, which defeated Cresskill High School, 34-32, on a buzzer-beater to claim the sectional title, the pride in his voice was evident.

McNish took over the Weehawken program in the 1993-94 season after serving as an assistant coach there for two seasons.

A player during his high school and college years, McNish admits basketball is in his DNA, and he can’t imagine anything else.

“A lot of people were asking me about that. But I still get excited at the beginning when the season rolls around and I still get nervous at the end of games,” he said. “The fire is still there, still burning. As long as I got that, I expect I will keep doing it.”