Jake Gaither: Agile, Mobile, Hostile

Dwight Floyd
Book Review

There are those times in life when you experience something that you can relate to or are inspired by. The last time I had that kind of reaction was watching the movie Hidden Figures. While watching the movie for the first time I found myself reacting emotionally to what Katherine Johnson must have felt as the only black person notably desegregating a crowded room.

Yesterday I received a book in the mail, The Biography of Jake Gaither: Agile, Mobile, Hostile, by Roosevelt Wilson. I went to bed that night thinking I would read it the next day. I awoke around 3:00 AM and decided to watch Angelique Kerber beat Maria Sharapova at the Australian Open rather than go back to sleep. I unwrapped the book to peruse the pages and enjoyed it so much that I didn’t put it down until I had finished reading it hours later.

Gaither diagrams play 1953
Published courtesy of state of Florida Archives

Jake Gaither knew who he was. He knew that he was just as good a coach as Bear Bryant, Eddie Robinson, or Ohio State’s Woody Hayes. He didn’t spend his life trying to prove it, rather he lived it and the facts are still there for all of us to see. Being able to embed that notion into your character and live that way without pause is one of the many lessons that this book teaches. I found The Biography of Jake Gaither: Agile, Mobile, Hostile to be entertaining, thoughtful, and inspirational. At times I laughed out loud and in other moments I shed a tear or two. It is a history lesson, lesson on leadership and character, and a love story all wrapped up into one.

Alonzo Smith “Jake” Gaither is a legend and the book confirmed much of what I thought I knew about him, yet it revealed so much more about Jake Gaither the man. Not everyone can have their life dissected in such a manner and remain a legend, but for those who read this book Jake Gaither’s legacy should rise rather than diminish.

This is not as much a book about winning as it is a book about life. College football just happens to have been Jake Gaither’s stage. The man that he was, the relationship with his wife and sons (the athletes he coached), and all that he stood for, reflects on the nature of his character, winning was just an aftermath. He possibly had the same thirst for winning as current NFL Patriot’s coach Bill Belichick, but with character. He never took shortcuts or thought he had to win at all costs. He in fact demonstrated that whatever the challenge, he was sure to come out a winner. If ever he lost a battle he was sure not to lose the same way twice, thus he seldom lost at anything.

I recall reading numerous articles in the Tallahassee Democrat and the Capitol Outlook that were written by the author, Roosevelt Wilson. I don’t know if he meant it to be, but this book may be his best work yet. This is not just a book for FAMU Rattlers to reminisce. Yes, every incoming freshman and alum should read it. So should every person who seeks to overcome, or simply has a desire to be a better person.

Comments 4

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.