AUSTIN (KXAN) — Following three straight district titles, expectations are high once again at LBJ.
“You would like to repeat as a district championship, that’s the first goal,” Jags head coach Andrew Jackson said. “Then you hope you get better enough to get past the first round.”
On the field, Jackson is bit concerned with his team’s depth. But the worries between the lines provide a welcome distraction to the reality of life outside of them.
“I’m battling,” Jackson said. “I have some rough days and some good days.”
Despite a stage four diagnosis of esophageal cancer that’s since spread to his liver and lungs, Jackson does his best to make it to practices and help his team prepare for the season.
“I’m doing what I can,” Jackson said. “Just my awareness and my being here to hopefully uplift our football team.”
“Coach Jack’s just made such an impact on so many young student athletes that it’s just, it was awful,” LBJ senior Conor Heffernan said of finding out Jackson had cancer. “It was terrible.”
While the normally firey coach has been forced to dial it back a bit, “I can’t do much yelling and coaching cause it sucks a lot of energy,” Jackson conceded, not even cancer could keep him away from the game he’s loved his whole life.
“It’s good just to be out here,” Jackson said. “I like the smell of a locker room, you know. Some people don’t. But it’s just seeing the kids. Seeing how they’re pushing them. It’s a wonderful feeling.”
Even as he faces the fight of his life, Jackson’s thoughts are still with his team.
“I know it’s on their mind, but like I tell them, ‘Don’t worry about coach,'” Jackson said. “‘Coach is gonna do what he can do. Y’all just do what y’all can do. Coach is gonna be proud whatever happens.'”
“What we’re going through is nothing compared to what he’s going through,” Heffernan said. “It makes us do those wind springs just a bit harder.”