How tough will it be for Jackson to stay away?
Eagle wrestling coach says he’s ready for a clean break
A few days after announcing his retirement from coaching, Jim Jackson said he was comfortable with the decision. But he acknowledged there probably are some people out there who wonder if he can make it stick.
In 1995, Jackson took over as Apple Valley High School’s wrestling coach for program founder Bill Demaray. A year later, Demaray was back with the team as an assistant coach, at Jackson’s request.
So, how is Jackson going to say no if the new Apple Valley coach – whoever that is; applications are being accepted until May 25 – asks him to come back?
“It’s a different situation,” he said. “When I asked Bill to come back, I think his kids were already grown. I have a 12-year-old daughter. I need to be there for her. During wrestling season, there were four or five nights a week that were really hectic.”
Last week, Demaray told Sun Thisweek Newspapers that he still enjoyed coaching when he stepped aside, but no longer wanted to be a head coach. His one-year absence from the wrestling room had more to do with wanting to give Jackson the opportunity to do things his way. Demaray remains with the program to this day and said he would be interested in staying on.
Many high school coaches have admitted to underestimating the demands of being a head coach. Last week, Apple Valley assistant coach Chad Erikson, a four-time state individual champion for the Eagles in the 1990s, said coaching in and of itself was a full-time job for Jackson and Demaray.
Erikson’s remarks were relayed to Jackson, who replied, “I would say Chad’s right on.
“Here’s the deal – I go to my cabin in the summer, but I’m never really relaxing. I’m thinking about the lineup, or how we’re going to raise money. … It’s all-consuming. That’s how I was. I didn’t think you could do it for three, four or five months – you have to be a head coach year-round.”
Jackson’s teams won 14 state championships and more than 600 matches. As Apple Valley wrestling raised its national profile – the Eagles were declared national high school champions by major wrestling websites in 2010 and 2011 – it required more frequent travel. The Eagles frequently went to weekend tournaments in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, North Dakota, even points farther away.
With school districts cutting their spending on athletics, the responsibility for financing the trips fell to the team, and its boosters. Jackson said raising money was one of his most stressful and least favorite aspects of coaching.
“Raising money is no fun,” he said. “And with the program we have, you have to raise a lot of money to keep it going.”
Over the next few years, Jackson said there’s a chance he will see more tennis than wrestling. His daughter Taylor is a competitive tennis player.
Jackson, 54, teaches physical education at Falcon Ridge Middle School. He said he plans to teach eight or nine more years.
As for coaching, he insists he’s done after 32 years in the AVHS program. He said he’s not sure if he even will spend much time at the wrestling room or go to Eagles matches.
“I think I need to make a complete break,” he said. “I’ll definitely miss the kids and the guys I coached with, but I think it would be hard for me if I hung around.
“I owe a lot to coaching, but it’s time to focus on other things.”