It's always special when one of our own receives a major statewide award.
It's particularly gratifying to see retiring Parkersburg South wrestling coach Paul Jackson be named the West Virginia High School Coach of the Year by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
It's not an easy award for wrestling coaches to win since it isn't considered a major sport in many areas of the state. Jackson is just the second wrestling coach to be so honored, joining Oak Glen mentor Larry Shaw.
He's also the first coach in the history of Parkersburg South to win the award, which represents every coach in every sport at every West Virginia high school.
It seems appropriate that South's first winner is a wrestling coach. After all, that is the sport for which the school is most known.
Plus, for a guy who has been the head coach for nine state championships and been named the Class AAA Wrestling Coach of the Year seven times by his peers at the state tournament, Jackson seemed humbled when informed of the honor.
"You've given me goose bumps,'' said Jackson, who truly was appreciative of the honor.
Jackson said all the right things during our interview, sharing the award with his staff and his wrestlers and all those who have been a part of South wrestling.
But there's one person in particular that he had to mention and that is his wife, Rose, who he started dating when he was wrestling for South.
"They say behind every successful man is a good woman,'' said Jackson.
Rose also is being honored this year. South statistician Jenny Sullivan nominated her for USA Wrestling's Coach's Wife of the Year and recently was informed that she won. The Jacksons have shared tragedy -the death of their 13-year-old son, Jeremiah -and many triumphs. Both have been dedicated to making South wrestling No. 1, which it is.
South wrestling begins every year with the pressure to win a state championship. It is expected. Let any other program at South advance to the state finals and it is a cause for celebration. If the South wrestling team finishes second, it's a disappointment. Jackson and his wrestlers thrived under that pressure. They knew on the front of their uniforms it said South and on the back there was a huge target. They were the team the others wanted to beat. They always would get the best effort from their foes, for a win over South would make their season.
"That's why I push the kids so hard,'' Jackson said.
Jackson loves those who follow South wrestling. Some were in the stands when he wrestled and are still there. They have followed South to Nevada, Florida and to many tournaments in the eastern United States. They are, in their way, part of the South wrestling family.
A family that should be celebrating today.
Jackson will receive his honor at the Victory Awards Dinner at the Dils Banquet Center on Sunday, April 29. It would be great to see those who support South wrestling be there to watch one of their own receive one of the state's highest honors.
Contact Dave Poe at firstname.lastname@example.org