"Protectors of the A" children's book
Alexis Egeland, The State Press
In 2007, Jason Ake and Taylor Dancer sat atop "A" Mountain and guarded it from the University of Arizona students during the week leading up to the Territorial Cup game.
In 2010, Jason and Taylor got married.
In 2016, the Akes published a children's book about ASU pride to share with their two young daughters.
Jason and Taylor met while they were students at ASU, both involved in the Leadership Scholar Program.
"The first time we really hung out was at homecoming," Jason said. "I was pulling the float that her group was leading with my truck and that's how we met, and it just blossomed our relationship there at ASU."
Although they graduated over a decade ago, the Akes still have school pride and they love going back to ASU to watch baseball.
The couple said they want to instill a love for books and a love for their alma mater in their daughters, and a children's book was the perfect way to do that.
"It kind of began when we had our first daughter, Emerson," Taylor said. "We had really wanted to develop a love for books in her."
Taylor said Emerson already loves ASU, and they have taken her to ASU baseball games since she was very young. She said they already have two ASU children's books for their daughters, but that they weren't the best.
"She loves her two ASU children's books," Taylor said. "As parents, they weren't necessarily our favorite children's books. They left a little bit to be desired, so we always joked that we needed to make an ASU children's book."
Thus, "Protectors of the A" was born.
In August 2015, Jason said he woke up in the middle of the night with the idea, and it grew from there. Now, a year later, the book is on the shelves, ready for generations of Sun Devils to enjoy.
"We've only been selling for a month now, and we've sold just over 300 at this point," Jason said. "It's done really well. The book is in the shop at Mill Avenue called Cactus Sports, and we're working with ASU to get it in the book stores as well."
Along with the stores, Jason said the book can also be purchased on Amazon or on the Protectors of the A website.
Jef Caine, the book's illustrator, works on the graphic design team at Central Christian Church with Jason, who knew he'd always wanted to illustrate a children's book.
Though he'd gone to a small college in Minnesota, Caine now lives in Tempe and drew inspiration for the illustrations from his experiences around the school.
“I live in Tempe right by the ASU campus, so I was able to walk around campus and experience a lot of that," Caine said. "I can see 'A' Mountain from my apartment, and sometimes I would walk there and hike up the mountain and try to kind of feel the ASU presence that way.”
Jason and Taylor said that one of the main reasons they decided to write the book was to give back to ASU, the school they love, and help support future Sun Devils as well.
"ASU really set Taylor and I both up, not just from a relationship standpoint, but where we are today," Jason said. "We met a lot of our dearest friends through relationships that we found at ASU. We were involved in various organizations there and we actually protected the A while we were there. We really wanted to do something to help give back to ASU, so we actually donate five percent of our sales back to ASU to go toward future scholarships."
And as for their future Sun Devils, the couple thinks their daughters already love the school.
"ASU really has become a part of our life," Jason said. "When my daughter Emerson, who's our oldest, when she sees Sparky, she also identifies that as her 'Bappa,' or her grandpa."
The Akes said they feel blessed to have been able to give back to ASU because of how much the school has given to them.
"We truly do love ASU and it gave so much to us," Taylor said. "We love that we have the opportunity to have the next generation being raised, those future Sun Devils, being able to have a love for it at such a young age."
This piece was originally published on statepress.com.