Courtesy photo New Red Devil Football Coach Wade Jackson drew many laughs as he spoke at the Avon Park Noon Rotary Club on Wednesday, Aug. 21.
published: Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Jackson shows different sides at Rotary lunch
By JAMIE WILLIAMS
Special to the News-Sun
AVON PARK - Avon Park Head Football Coach Wade Jackson showed his humorous side as he spoke before the Avon Park Noon Rotary Club on Wednesday, Aug. 21, as he started off his comments by directing them to Pastor Jon Beck, who is also an assistant coach on the football team.
"I don't know how long I got, but Pastor Beck, I have to sit and listen to him each Sunday, now you have to listen to me," quipped Jackson as those in attendance laughed. "Secondly, we've been raising some money at the high school by selling business cards and some of you put your business on here. I just wanted to thank Mr. Stanley (Wells). He wanted to celebrate his 25th anniversary with free oil changes, so if you wanted something free from Mr. Stanley, I can hook you up."
From there Jackson gave an overview of what has been going on as he stated that he has been blessed by God to be in this position.
He noted that the kids have been working real hard and that they finished the spring with 22 young men and had more come out in the summer.
"We had a good summer in the weight room," added Jackson. "So I am excited about that, and we have a great freshman class coming in and I am excited about what they are going to do in the future."
Avon Park has eight seniors; Mason Jahna, Christian Suarez, Caleb Pursor, Harley Hudson, Hunter Massey, Zach Farr, Charles Council and Romeo Dunn.
"They are good young men and quality football players," cited Jackson, "We are excited about the leadership that they bring."
The biggest goal for Jackson and his coaching staff in the summer was to look at the kids they have and go with an offense and defense that they can do their best in.
The second biggest goal for them has been about changing the culture and their motto for this year is 'Attitude is Everything.'
Jackson said that goes with how you carry yourself every day to include what you do at school, home and everywhere you go - attitude is a reflection of yourself and your community.
"They have all bought in to changing the culture," said Jackson. "When they show up for practice, they are ready to go. When they go to the weight room, we don't have to get on them a whole lot and in the past we have struggled with that because we got into a mindset as a school that we accept mediocrity. We are not going to be mediocre, so we working on changing those attitudes and their everyday life."
Jackson said he tells the kids all the time that 'Rome was not built in a day.'
"When one of them asked me what that really meant, I said I really did not know," he said. "But it sounded good."
Those in attendance laughed.
"I told them we are going to take one step at a time and we are going to build this thing up," Jackson continued. "If you look at the gym, we got brand new championship banners put up and the last one we got is 1988. To say I don't want to put one up would be a bold-face lie because I think about it all the time."
"I believe in setting your goals high. If you don't you will never obtain anything."
Jackson took notice that the second game, against Frostproof, is going to tell him a lot about his team.
"They got some studs up there," he said. "Are we going to go up there and slap them in the mouth and not take anything from them or are we going to back down. That is part of changing the culture, fear none and respect all."
He recounted back when he was in school, there was not much to do except play or go to football games.
"When Friday night came, businesses closed and the stands were packed and that is what we want to build up to again," said Jackson. "Getting the stands packed. We will change the culture and put a product on the field that this town can be proud of, even if they do not have anybody out there, to come and be part of something special. That is what we are trying to build."
To do that, Jackson is reaching out to the youth programs and middle school.
"Last week Coach Reggie Knighten was out here and he has done a great job with the youth football and Champions Elite," said Jackson. "I have talked to those guys about how to build a program in Avon Park, not just four separate entities. We have to take care of the youth, middle, JV and Varsity programs. The Lord has blessed me to hopefully connect all these things together."
The kids are excited about the season and know what the challenges are ahead of them.
The one thing that Jackson worries about, besides injuries, is for kids to consider themselves as failures if they do not reap the rewards of their hard work.
"That is something that we have to preach to them," remarked Jackson. "Is no, you are not a failure, it is more of a stepping stone on where we want to go."
He also worries about grades and has set up a study hall for the players.
He added that three players that were ineligible in the spring game are now eligible to play and they keep a constant eye on grades and homework assignments to work on and maintain GPAs.
Jackson mentioned, in another moment of levity, that they did some tutoring in algebra and realized how much he had forgotten.
"Grades comes first and then football," said Jackson, as he pronounced that they also allow players to miss the first part of practice to attend the tutoring program the school has with Webber University twice a week.
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