SportsHigh School Sports


'Somebody needs to serve and If not me, then who?': Southern Door's Thomas Jackson to attend West Point

'Somebody needs to serve and If not me, then who?': Southern Door's Thomas Jackson to attend West Point
Posted at 4:22 PM, Jan 26, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-26 17:22:22-05

BRUSSELLS — A three-sport athlete. A soon-to-be valedictorian. An Eagle Scout, among other things.

At Southern Door High School on Friday morning, one student was being celebrated for going on to do something much bigger than himself.

This winter, after school you can find senior Thomas Jackson putting in time on the mat for wrestling season.

“I didn't come up naturally athletically gifted, so having to work harder in the weight room and other scenarios has been really crucial for character building in my opinion,” Jackson said.

Sports have helped Jackson grow into the person that he is today.

“Through the sports that I've done, being around good coaches has been a very crucial part because all of my coaches have been good role models, good people,” he said. “I would also say that sports teach you not to quit. They teach you how to work hard.”

But he’s more than an athlete. He's also an Eagle Scout and soon to finish at the top of his class.

“The hardest thing for him to do is get a 4.0 all the way through and be a valedictorian,” said his wrestling coach Jerry Englebert. “We’ve talked about that and what it takes and some of his athletic goals were somewhat easier to achieve than that one, because that’s hard. That's 365 days a year. That’s not just one season.”

All of that hard work, countless hours in the gym and studying has paid off.

“It was extremely fulfilling and when I found out for sure, it was super ecstatic,” said Jackson.

From a military family, inspired by his uncle Russ Tate who graduated from the Naval Academy, Jackson has dreamed of going to West Point to become an Army officer since about 8th grade.

“I think that recognizing the freedoms that we have as Americans is crucial and not everybody needs to serve, but somebody needs to serve and if not me, then who? Ya know,” Jackson said.

He was recently accepted into the academy, going through a rigorous process. He was given the ultimate stamp of approval by United States Representative Mike Gallagher.

“When people step up to serve at what is still a dangerous time, I think it not only tells you something about their character but about the idea of America that is still worth defending,” Gallagher said. “He just demonstrated a remarkable diligence and also a capacity for leadership that made him a great candidate and I'm really excited for him going to West Point.”

Jackson hopes to be an infantry officer and for his stellar achievement, his high school threw quite the celebration for him.

“It's just a very good representation of how much community support I've had behind me from the school, from people affiliated with the school and just community members like those in my church and other organizations.”

Now that his dream has become a reality, his military journey can’t start soon enough.

“I can't wait to meet my classmates. They’re going to be people who are driven, ambitious and hardworking and I think that is going to be my favorite part of next year,” Jackson said.