Because of My Examples

Jackson Nowatzke faced a significant challenge his sophomore year on the football field. It was the first game of the season, and while playing on the JV squad, the young quarterback suffered an injury. Just before half time hit, Jackson snapped his tibia, resulting in a painful leg break. Undoubtedly, devastation set in. “Not being able to make it through the first half, of the first game, was really hard on me,” Jackson says. “I was real disappointed that I missed the whole season and couldn’t play.”

Snow Canyon Class of 2016 Football & Basketball 4.0GPA

Jackson’s mother, Heidi, admits the injury left her son with a long road ahead. “He had a good attitude, but it was hard. It was a long recovery for him too. He was faced with all sorts of questions. Surgery? Is he going to be out for baseball too? In that moment, you just start looking at all of the things that will be affected.”

The injury came so early in the season, and Jackson explained his feelings watching his teammates play without him. “You want to help in any way you can. It’s hard when you can’t play.” However, this injured quarterback looked to maintain a positive perspective. “You want to still try to motivate your team the best you can. You try to pump them up and make sure they know you believe in them. When it comes down to it, you just find a way to help your team the best you can.”

“I just need to make sure I am working everyday to become an even better person overall.“

Now healthy and approaching his senior year, Jackson looks to take a leadership role on the field, and he knows that preparation is vital. “I will always get in an extra 30-45 minutes before practice for those extra reps I feel I need. Whether it’s hand-offs with running backs, snaps with centers, routes with wide receivers; it’s the light pre-practices that help make the difference.”

Being the oldest of five boys, Jackson knows he has more than a few sets of eyes looking up to him. “I definitely think about my brothers when I’m playing. I try to show them what it really means to work hard and be a leader, not just on, but off the field. Also in the classroom and in public, I try to set a good example.”

Jackson’s mother Heidi gives her insight on the family role of her oldest son. “We really rely on him a lot to help out with his younger brothers. He is so great with them and is such a good example for them, which I am grateful for. I am so proud of who he is, he is amazing.”

“Keeping my grades up is very important to me, and my mom helps me out a lot,“ Jackson shares. “She’s constantly checking my grades to make sure I am where I am supposed to be.” Jackson gives his mother, and her support, a great deal of credit for his ability in maintaining a 4.0 GPA. “Sometimes it can get stressful, and there are days where I don’t feel I can get everything done. But she has helped me learn to push through it. Some nights I know I will be up ‘til midnight, or sometimes later, and that can get tiring and hard, but as long as I have a good schedule it’s not extremely difficult.” Following a complete day of studies at school, a full practice on the field, and chores at home, Jackson generally has 2-4 hours of AP homework each day. However, he has learned to effectively balance his time and take advantage of each moment he has available.

Jackson loves to be out among his brothers, friends, and teammates, either hiking, swimming, or bowling (he and some of his fellow teammates enjoy playing in local bowling leagues). “I don’t think anyone would bowl above a 120, but we would still have fun.” This young man also plays the piano, an activity his mother highly values. She says, “I feel like it helps round everything out, since kids can be so focused on sports.”

Jackson points to his father, Tim, as his greatest sports mentor. Tim played wide receiver for the Cougars at BYU, and he teaches his son exactly how receivers want to get the ball. When Jackson is a bit “off” on his passing, his dad is always there to help him. “It puts a different kind of pressure on me, but I am glad to be able to learn so much from him.” Jackson continues, “He is such a great example to me of hard work. He is one of the biggest catalysts in my life, with school and sports, and always making sure I maintain good character.”

“The life lessons you learn from your coaches and through sports can really help you later on in life,” Jackson explains. “The dedication, hard work, effort, and your attitude and response to adversity; I’ve seen it work in my life. Sports help to build character. It affects every area of your life.” Jackson knows he has a tremendous responsibility to himself, his family, coaches, teammates, and school, to be his very best with everything he does. “I just need to make sure I am working everyday to become an even better person overall.”

Jackson reflects on one of his fellow teammates and greatest examples, Britton Shipp. He shares the power behind his dear friend’s example of resilience. “Britton is such a great example to me of working hard and fighting through hard times. I have never gone through anything close to what he has had to, and to see him fight through it all is incredible. That, and how amazing it was to see the community as a whole, rally around him. We were no longer Snow Canyon, or Dixie, or Desert Hills. We were a community of people that came together for one great cause. That taught me so much.”

Intending to serve an LDS mission for his faith, Jackson says he hopes to have the opportunity to serve on the east coast. However, should his call take him further from home, he would love to end up, “somewhere in Europe. That would be really fun to serve my church someplace like that.”

With all he has learned participating in school, sports, his parents, teachers, and coaches, Jackson is certainly a wonderful illustration of the power of example. • HSSI