I was able to recently talk to Jake Zweig, who is a contestant on Top Shot's current season. After our interview I asked Jake if he would allow me to showcase some of his pictures featuring his art, science experiments, his time coaching and with the SEALs.
Jake agreed to let me show you guys some things from his life outside the world of Top Shot, so here is a slideshow with excerpts from the original interview and pictures to go along with them.
So what got you into coaching football when you had gotten an MBA in business?
My old roommate tells me I have been talking about my two goals since we were in the Naval Academy, I said I was going to be a National Championship Head Coach and then go on to be a US Senator. I don't remember that too much but he's smarter than I am so I take his word for it.
I worked at a company where we had these life meeting with your boss every quarter and I was making six figures and I was working towards coaching but it was really hard to get in. I spent a full year just trying to figure out how to get a job in Coaching.
So I sat down on a Saturday and said how can I build a relationship with these coaches? So I went with the brute force method and I sat on the sidelines of all the spring trainings and all the practices during the 2004 season in Maryland in a suit and tie. I would go work my nine hour day and then take a train up to College Park. Some days, people would talk to me and some days they wouldn't. After a few months, I had a good relationship with some of the coaches. I would run around the field with the defensive coordinator and stuff like that.
At the end of the year they had an assistant coach position open up and I took it. I went from making six figures a year to making around $7,000 a year. As much as I want to think I am driven by money, when I was younger I was very driven by money, but I realized money doesn't have any importance in how happy you are in life, as long as you can pay your bills excess money doesn't really do anything for you.
My fiancée knew I hated my job and she said “go do it”, so I did it.
I want to talk about you art a little bit. Do you think it would surprise people that you are an artist?
Yeah, it always surprises people. I started when I was in 2th grade in Washington. Living in Washington there is a couple huge factors growing up, Art and science are really big in Washington so every school has an art studio.My father, who has since passed, was a big artist so it's in my genes.
People who meet me don't usually know me that well, so it surprises them to find out I have this capacity.
Do you ever try and sell your artwork, or is it for personal pleasure that you do it?
Yeah, I've sold some of the helmets I have made, and I have sold some ceramic stuff too. It depends,
I have a couple pieces that I am making right now to hang on the wall that are very ornamental. I have sold some stuff but there is no way I could supplement my income with art. I sell some stuff but it is not something I do just to sell.
Around that time in sixth grade I won the Washington State science fair three years in a row in seventh, eighth and ninth grade, so by that time I had a full scholarship to Washington University from beating everyone in the engineering part of the science fair three years in a row, including all the high school seniors.
Do you ever still tinker around with science stuff?
Yeah, I am always doing something with science. I have been working on replicating some of Tesla's experiments from the early 1900's involving rotating magnetic fields, using AC power to make solid state magnets that rotate in six axes. I built a machine that can separate Hydrogen from Oxygen using electrolysis for my 1963 Galaxy to boost it's gas mileage.Science is always there somehow.
Last summer I built an incubator with a self regulating temperature gauge and hatched 19 snapping turtles from the mom I found in my driveway.All my players at New Hampshire got Snapping turtles, and when I left NH last year we released them back into the wild. So yeah I always have something going on with science.
So now that you have competed in a professional marksmanship competition, do you think you will do anymore?
No, absolutely not. I have never been a big competitive shooting guy, in fact I have never been in a shooting competition before Top Shot. I tend to look at things for what they are and the competitive shooting world is a very small world so sometimes you might only be shooting against six or seven guys for your division at nationals. It doesn't have a lot of intrigue for me.
(Side note: This photo is from last week's episode when Jake went three for three on a challenge that required contestants to bank arrows of a platform into moving targets.)
During our conversation Jake had mentioned that he recently got into airbrushing, so I though I would share a picture of a bike he restored and airbrushed.
So do you still own many guns or do you usually use the guns at the range?
I own some firearms, I have some pistols, some survival weapons, some rifles, that kind of stuff. I have a number of guns, but it's less than ten.Every gun has a purpose.
I got a five dollar shotgun from a garage sale that I have had for about ten years. It was a side by side Remington 16gauge shotgun all rusted out sitting in this barrel the guy had and I asked how much he wanted and he said 5 bucks, so I cleaned it up and it works great.
So what inspired you to go for the SEAL team?
It wasn't really that it was an inspiration, it was that they were doing the things I wanted to do, traveling the world. I wasn't doing it for the glory, I had the unfortunate chance to get shot in high school so I wasn't oblivious to gunfights.
I went to the Navy prep school because I came out of high school not really knowing how to read too well. So the first week at Prep School,Jim Golladay, who was the first Navy SEAL to graduate from the Naval Academy was awarded the bronze star for his actions in Panama. I didn't know what a Navy SEAL was but I knew about Army Rangers and Green Berets and that's all what I wanted to do growing up next to Fort Lewis…all the people I knew and my friends parents were in the Army. So that's what started me down that path.
I will say this, I am not a very good conformist, so to say I didn't fit in well at the Naval Academy is an understatement, I tried to conform but I am justnot a good conformist. I played football there and wrestled until my senior year.
I didn't get a SEAL billet out of the Naval Academy because I had been in a little trouble there, nothing big, just conduct problems. They said once you get your qualification on a ship we will pick you up, so I went there and got qualified in six months. It normally takes 18-24 months but I was working 100-110 hour weeks and eventually I got my Surface Warfare Officer Pin, and got picked up on the first lateral transfer board to SEAL teams. I spent another year on the ship and reported to SEAL training in1997.
So while I was on your Facebook, I saw a black ring. What was that?
I was at the naval academy and I wanted a ring different from anybodyelse's, and in true fashion I wanted things my way. I wanted an all black ring with a skull and cross bones. In the skull the eye has a diamond and there is a knife in his mouth with the cross bones below.
I went to the jeweler in town and paid for the custom artwork in the ring.When the Commandant wanted to see it I told him I had lost it because as soon as I got it I sent it home to Washington because I knew there would be hell to pay for it, so no one ever saw until after I was out of the Academy.
It's funny too because every once in awhile one of my mentees at the Naval Academy will catch wind of an all black naval academy ring and it's an urban legend out there that it exists, when really it's just the ring I had made.
They showed Michael getting upset when you came back from Elimination. How did that make you feel?
It was kind of funny, there was the whole chalk thing on the house and I signed my last name on it prior to the elimination challenge I just came back from last week on the show.
So who did you get along with best?
Paul, the guy I sent home, I got along with him pretty well. Billy was awesome, Jared was cool too. Mike Hughes and I got along. I pretty much got along with everybody except Sara, who went home early, and Dustin.
How did being cut off from the outside world affect you?
It sucked. You don't have any books, Internet or phone. You're not allowed to leave the house so it was a lot of working out, a lot of wasting time. I wish I could have brought like 100 books. I would have been a lot better off.
Did you keep in touch with anybody?
I keep in touch with a lot of them. I talked to Mike Hughes today, I talked to Jared Grimes last night, I just had dinner with Pauly about two weeks ago when I drove through Jersey. Mike Marelli actually hit me up on Facebook the other day.
Can you leave us with a Jake Zweig quote?
“I have the innate ability to do the impossible consistently.”