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Sports >  WSU football

‘We’re all so proud of him’: WSU coach and Wisconsin native Jake Dickert has 200 family and friends in support at Camp Randall

Sept. 10, 2022 Updated Sat., Sept. 10, 2022 at 5:11 p.m.

By Jim Hoehn For The Spokesman-Review

MADISON, Wis. – Welcome to Dickertville, Wisconsin, a small, unincorporated festive hamlet of roughly 200 people – at least for today.

A couple hundred Cougar-clad family members and friends of Washington State coach Jake Dickert, a Wisconsin native, gathered for a Saturday morning tailgate and catered barbecue before the nonconference game against the 19th-ranked Badgers.

The gathering on the front lawn at Edgewood High School, little more than a mile from Camp Randall Stadium, the 80,000-seat home of the Badgers, was a mixture of smiles, stories and immense pride in Jake Dickert’s rise through the coaching ranks to the head job at a Division 1 program.

“It’s such an honor. It’s just unbelievable,” said Jill Davis, wearing a shirt that read on the back, “Coach Dickert’s Favorite Auntie.” “We’re a really, really close family. We’re all just so proud of him.”

Jeff Dickert, Jake’s dad, said the tailgate plans started almost as soon as they saw Wisconsin on the schedule.

“We started in about May and we started a ticket list,” he said, interrupting his conversation to greet a group with “ ‘How are you doing today?’ Which drew the response, ‘Go Cougs!’ ”

“We had relatives already signed up at Christmas,” Jeff Dickert said. “I had some contacts previously who helped me get the location, Jake’s wife’s mother knew the caterer. So, once we got the location and the caterer, we just told everyone to bring your own chairs, beer and that, and drinks and off you go – it will be a good old-fashioned Wisconsin tailgate.

“We have 200, we kind of kept it tight. Once the newspaper articles came out, I’ve been getting buzzed about every hour asking, ‘Where are you guys tailgating?’ So, we’ve got others coming now. But, it’s mainly family or extended family that knows Jake.”

Jake Dickert’s 83-year-old grandmother, Marilyn, brought his favorite strawberry jelly, which she made, although she couldn’t deliver it to him personally.

“Oh my gosh, I’m so excited,” she said. “But I gave the jelly to his wife because I didn’t know how I’d get it into the stadium. But, I’m so very proud of him.”

Gary Dickert, Jake’s great uncle, played defensive line at Wisconsin in the 1970s. He traveled with his wife, Kathy, from Tucson, Arizona.

“I think Pullman fits Jake and his family because he’s got that smaller town Wisconsin mentality and it’s a good fit for them,” said Gary Dickert, also sporting WSU attire.

John Miech, the former head coach at Wisconsin-Stevens Point where Jake Dickert played collegiately and got his coaching start as a grad assistant, made the trip from his home in Florida.

Miech said he wasn’t surprised at Jake Dickert’s coaching success.

“He was a young man, sitting as a player in a room, and he got in 3½ minutes while it took us 20 minutes to explain it to everybody else,” Miech said. “He had a really, really high football IQ. And, he’s been around a lot of outstanding football people.”

Jeff Dickert, who was in education as a teacher, principal and then superintendent, noticed Jake’s attention to football detail even earlier.

“Already in Pop Warner football, he knew all the plays, he knew everybody’s position,” Jeff Dickert said. “I knew he had the knack for understanding the game and seeing things before they happened. I figured when he became a teacher, he’d be a coach, of course.”

At one of his early collegiate coaching stops, Jake Dickert was the special teams coordinator and defensive backs coach in 2011 at South Dakota, which suffered a 59-10 loss to a Badgers team that included running backs James White, Montee Ball and Melvin Gordon.

“This is awesome, it’s unbelievable,” said Jake’s brother, Jesse Dickert, who also played collegiately at Wisconsin-Stevens Point. “This is what you dream as kids. We were big Badgers fans. Our dream was to play, but coming now back coaching against the Badgers, it’s wild.”

“And this time, he has a shot,” Jesse Dickert said. “Last time with South Dakota, he was an assistant coach and it was like, ‘Hey, we’re going to kick your butt.’ Today, it’s like, if our kids play well, we’ve got a chance to win this thing.”

Jake Dickert’s wife, Candice, whom he met in college, hails from Stoughton, about 20 miles southeast of Madison.

“We played the Badgers 11 years ago when Jake was an assistant at South Dakota,” she said. “If someone had told me 11 years ago … not that it’s come full circle, but I’m just so proud of him. It feels that all the sacrifice, not that it wouldn’t have been worth it, but it just feels that much sweeter when it’s something like this.”

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