Coach puts spotlight on Selma

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 31, 2008

The issue: Local coach shines in national spotlight.

Our take: Jackson&8217;s accomplishment should not have been completely unexpected.

For a small town, Selma has been noted for making some large contributions to sports over the decades.

Another prominent feather in the Queen City&8217;s cap came when Woodie Jackson coached in and won the McDonald&8217;s All-American high school basketball game this past Wednesday in Milwaukee.

Jackson, a Selma resident and long-time coach at Francis Marion, represented his school, city and the entire profession well, and not just because he and his players were victorious.

Jackson is renowned for his old-school style &8212; which can easily be misunderstood in today&8217;s game &8212; and it showed why he has been a state champion in four different decades.

Jackson credits his longevity to running every morning and a passion for what he does.

Perhaps it is more than that.

Jackson, who is also assistant principal at Francis Marion, seems to understand there are some things that never go out of style.

When people say &8220;the game has changed,&8221; they confuse the game itself with all the things surrounding it &8212; things that distort our perception of fair play and success.

Athletes see themselves differently, often as grander figures than what they really are.

It takes a special type of person to reel players in when more and more people pump up their egos.

Hustle and intelligence are still at a premium in basketball or any other sport, no matter if a championship or nationally televised showcase that supposedly means nothing is on the line.

That was evident when players from the East team, which Jackson coached, dove after loose balls and got back on defense to thwart a comeback by the West squad.

It was evident when Jackson called a time out just to remind his players to play smart.

Among many other accomplishments, Jackson holds the state record for consecutive titles (four, 1988-91); Final Four appearances (11); and wins among active coaches. He also coached the first Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game.

In true gentlemanly fashion, Jackson took his own coaching staff to Milwaukee in lieu of other accomplished coaches he could have chosen to accompany him.

Therein lies another lesson for young people &8212; loyalty.

Consider this an answer for those who asked, &8220;How in the world did some coach from rural Alabama end up coaching one of the biggest sporting events of the year?&8221;

More than likely, the people on the selection committee saw, first, a great list of professional accomplishments and, second, a great formula for achieving them.

In a time when young athletes are becoming further disengaged, this coach from Alabama may be just what the doctor ordered.

It certainly couldn&8217;t hurt to lend one of our own to provide a stellar example for people on a national stage.