Concordia's athletic complex was named in honor of this legendary football coach, who led Cobber football teams to 197 wins.
Nicknamed the “sly fox” for his cunning plays, Jake Christiansen led Concordia’s football team to its first undefeated season just one year after beginning his coaching duties.
Christiansen was born in 1900 in Marinette, Wis., and grew up in Northfield, Minn., where his father, F. Melius Christiansen, was conductor of the St. Olaf College Choir.
While Jake Christiansen had musical talent, athletics were his intrigue. A standout athlete in college, he graduated from St. Olaf in 1924 with a bachelor’s degree in physical education. He later earned a master’s degree in education and counseling from North Dakota State University. Christiansen's early professional life included coaching at the high school level. Before coming to Concordia in 1941, he was the athletic director and coach at Valparaiso University in Indiana for 12 years. From 1941 to 1969, Christiansen served these same roles at Concordia. In his 28 years at Concordia, Christiansen’s football team recorded an impressive 197 wins.
Christiansen also founded the Concordia Coaching Clinic, which was one of the largest and most respected in the nation. In fall 1964, Christiansen was named MIAC Coach of the Year, NAIA Coach of the Year and inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame. That same year the construction of a new football stadium was announced. After its completion in 1966, it was dedicated as the Jake Christiansen Stadium. He was inducted into the Concordia Athletic Hall of Fame in 1986 and Valparaiso followed suit in 1999.
Christiansen was committed to Concordia. He once said, “I want to build my program and then live here the rest of my life and see it operate.” Jake’s legacy is evident not only in his win-loss record, but also in the memories of those who knew him.
Finn Grinaker wrote in his book, "I Played for Jake," that “wherever his players gather his presence is felt; there is a sense of togetherness, a sense of joy, gratitude and a deep appreciation for the opportunity that enabled them to play for this very special man.”
– Contributed by Lisa Sjoberg, college archivist