Jackson looks to build Point flag football from the ground up
Published 11:00 am Wednesday, January 17, 2024
Starting a new program is tough, but starting a new program with a new sport adds a whole new set of challenges.
Point University is adapting rapidly and with that comes the addition of new programs. The university decided to start a new flag football program, and the Skyhawks hired Theseus Jackson over the summer to run the program.
Jackson has brought a wealth of experience as a college and professional football player, but he is working to build a sport that is fairly new even to the athletes.
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As flag football has been growing locally, several of Point’s players have played the sport before. Even those athletes have adjustments to make as they learn new terminology and adjust to the college game.
“The main challenge was teaching them my terminology and what I expect,” Jackson said. “A lot of the girls come from programs where they played for three years, and the only thing they knew was what their coach told them.”
Since practices started in September, Jackson has been working to teach his players the terminology and aspects of the game that they have not experienced.
Around eight players on Point’s roster are athletes who played the sport in high school. Those players at least know some of the interworkings of the sport, but Jackson has not relied on them too much as they are still adjusting to college life and college flag football.
“I don’t really rely on them too much because I know that they’re still learning as well,” Jackson said. “The college game is different from high school. I don’t want to put added pressure on them trying to help other girls learn when at the same time they’re still learning themselves. All the girls are athletes, and they’ve been picking up everything pretty well.”
The rest of the girls on the team are completely new to the sport, but that has not deterred them from bringing the energy each day into practice. Early on with new girls, Jackson has noticed that athleticism and enthusiasm are not an issue.
“They have brought great energy,” Jackson said. “They’re running around full speed and really enjoying being out there. At first, it was slow because they were still trying to learn. We have progressed tremendously since we started.”
Beyond just the sport being new, Jackson is new to several aspects of coaching as well. Jackon is a first-time head coach.
With it being his first season as a head coach with a brand new program, Jackson has had to learn the nuances that come with running a collegiate program.
“The biggest learning curve for me is all the behind-the-scenes things that I have to do that I never really paid attention to,” Jackson said. “Ordering uniforms, practice gear, equipment, having to do all the interviews now. Everything is falling on me now.”
Despite the program still being in the early stages, Jackson has already noticed some standout players. Aleja Nathan, Ja’Liyah Kelly, Leah Prater and Maddy Motz are all freshmen who come from successful programs. Jackson expects them to make an immediate impact for the Skyhawks.
Darcee Wright, from Valley High School, and Alexandria Jackson are brand new to the sport, but Jackson has already noticed the talent between the two.
“Those two never played flag, but just their athleticism and how quickly they picked up flag, that has really impressed me,” Jackson said.
Going into the first season, Jackson is tempering his expectations. At his core, Jackson is a winner and winning is very important to him as an athlete and a coach. However, most of all, he wants to see the sport grow and his team enjoy themselves along the way.
“Obviously, I do want to win, but at the same time, knowing we’re a first-year team, I just want them to compete, be fast and have fun with it,” Jackson said. “When you stop having fun, you really stop liking the game. I just want them to compete, have fun and enjoy this process because a lot of girls want to play college football and a lot of them don’t get that opportunity. To be able to play the sport at the next level, enjoy every moment.”
The Skyhawks flag football team is also waiting on several other players from other sports. Several athletes on the women’s basketball team are going to transition to flag football once basketball season wraps up.
Those basketball players will be behind some of the other athletes on the team, but Jackson plans to work them in different ways and slowly build to them having an impact on the team.
“I’m waiting for them to win the national championship in basketball before they come out,” Jackson said. “That’s my goal for them. I told them that from day one.”
One major aspect for Jackson is building excitement for the program at the university and in the surrounding community. Jackson has been active on social media promoting the team and the Skyhawks had a spirit week in the fall.
The players on the team have also been working to promote the sport through word of mouth. The team hopes to build some fan support before they take the field for the first time on Feb. 22.
“Some of them have already been in the community even though they’re dealing with class,” Jackson said. “Some of them are student teachers right now, so they’re in school talking to the kids about them playing flag.”