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Tracy Jackson Retires After a 44-Year Career

Tracy Jackson Retires After a 44-Year Career

Sam Barlow High School’s head football coach and credit recovery teacher Tracy Jackson retires after three years with the Bruins. 

Jackson’s career began in 1980 at South Salem High School for a single year. On his journey from South Salem to Barlow, Jackson taught and coached at numerous other schools, including Oregon City High School, where he was a softball coach, and Madison (now McDaniel) High School, as a wrestling coach.

For Jackson, coaching was always about going to places that would benefit from his instruction, or as he put it, “to get losing teams winning.” A great help in turning teams around is what Jackson refers to as “Jackson-isms” or things he has learned over the years that have helped him and his athletes.

One “Jackson-ism” he is most proud of is, “Somebody quits before the other team wins. Are you gonna quit? Or are you gonna keep competing?” Jackson uses this to remind his players that although the present moment might not be ideal, their time will come if they put in hard work. “You don’t know where the momentum is, but don’t doubt because it will come back,” Jackson elaborates.

When Jackson arrived at Barlow, the Bruin’s football team was already full of momentum. “It was a destination job,” Jackson shares. “When I was hired, it was an ‘I made it’ moment.” When Jackson applied to be the Head Football Coach at Barlow, he wasn’t searching for a team that had previously been bad; he wanted to coach an already successful team and ensure they kept winning. Three years later, that’s exactly what he did.

The 2023 Barlow football season was full of exciting and memorable moments such as receiving a home play-off game or the last-minute winning play to beat Liberty 37-36. Nevertheless, what stood out most to Jackson was how they got to be in The Columbia Cup. With two games left in their regular season, Barlow football was down 49-0 at halftime to Central Catholic. Knowing he was going to retire, Coach Jackson didn’t want his final season to be over in a couple of games; luckily, neither did the seniors.

Jackson recalls five or six seniors approaching him during halftime against Central Catholic as they shared their plan to extend their time together. “They took initiative,” Jackson explains, “We had lost four linemen and a running back within the first couple of weeks, and they wanted to move people around to strengthen our front.” Player involvement was just what Jackson was looking for, stating, “Unless the team is on board, it doesn’t matter how good you are at coaching…initiative just creates the right type of culture.”

When the final Mt. Hood Conference standings were announced, the Bruins took third place, and Coach Jackson was named the Mt. Hood Conference Coach of the Year. Typically, Coach of the Year is awarded to the coach whose team placed first. So, one could have assumed it would have gone to Central Catholic’s coach. But the comeback Jackson and his team made was far too special to go unnoticed. “Stuff like that doesn’t come by often,” shares Jackson, “My plaque is on my mantel, and the ASB made me something as well that is sitting right next to it. It really means a lot to me.”

As he reflects on his career, Jackson said no matter what he did on the field or in the weight room, it was always about the athletes. Whether they were on his team or another athletic program in the school, Jackson eagerly accepted the chance to coach and instruct anyone willing to listen. Jackson explains his gratitude for coaching saying, “It’s more than a passion but a dream and a hobby. I feel fortunate because I got to do what I love and get paid.” Jackson also finds it extremely rewarding to see his athletes succeed. “The best part of coaching is seeing your kids jumping up and down like giddy two-year-olds after they win,” Jackson declares. 

Supporting athletes remains important to Jackson as he retires. In addition to traveling and checking off bucket list items with his friends and family, Jackson plans to attend Barlow basketball games, wrestling matches, and whatever other sport or athlete may grab his attention. 

Jackson leaves Barlow with fond memories, knowing it was going to be hard to retire regardless of what year it was, but this year felt like the right time. “I really have a lot of affection for Barlow. I’ve just gotta go do the next thing before I get too old to do it,” Jackson concludes with a chuckle.

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Britney Henderson, Editor in Chief

Hi I’m Britney! I am a Senior and this is my second year on the Bruin Banner. I enjoy reading and writing. Outside of school I love playing softball and paddle boarding!

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