The five-peat is official and with it, Jackson High School sports have set a new standard for Federal League athletic excellence.

JACKSON TWP.  The five-peat is official and with it, Jackson High School sports have set a new standard for Federal League athletic excellence.

With the 2015-16 school year officially over, the final standings for the Federal League All-Sports Trophy have been tallied and, for the fifth straight year, Jackson tops the standings. It’s the first time a school has won the trophy five years in a row since it was first awarded in 1984.

With 123 points, Jackson easily outdistanced the field, scoring the most points in the fall, winter and spring sports categories.

“Obviously, we pride ourselves on that all-around success. It shows that you can have some great programs and still not win if you don’t do well overall,” athletic director Terry Peterson said. “It tells you the success of our programs cars the board, every 3-4 sports they have success for sure in year in year  to win five straight times and is speaks very highly about them overall … we don’t put all our our marbles in just a few hats.”

Since 1999, either Jackson or Hoover has won the trophy every year. GlenOak dominated the early days of the All-Sports Trophy, winning it the first four years and six of the first seven, but the Polar Bears and Vikings have dueled for league supremacy over the past 17 seasons.

With this year’s win, Jackson has etched its name on the award 16 times, with its most recent win coming on the strength of 21 varsity sports competing in the Federal League. This year included eight league titles and several other second- and third-place finishes, marks Peterson attributes to multiple factors.

“I think we live in a community when the kids are growing up taught proper priorities and our parents should be thrown a lot of that success because they get their kids involved at an early age in the sports they enjoy and the kids stay with it,” Peterson said. “I also think that success breeds success. When you have the success we have across the board, people want to be a part of that, but if you’re 0-25 every year (in a sport), people might not want to be a part of it.”

Peterson also credited the various varsity coaching staffs across fall, winter and spring sports for the work they do not only during the season, but year round. Most sports have grown into a 12-month endeavor and although there are state rules regulating how much and how often coaches can work with athletes in the offseason, the majority of sports have some sort of practice or conditioning throughout the year.

“You also have to give our head coaches and our staff a lot of credit in the success. They continue that success and it helps build those numbers of athletes who want to be part of it,” Peterson said. “They put in a lot of work in during the offseason and training and they’re not just a coach from August 1 to October 30. Most are coaching as much as they’re allowed during course of year.”

The coaching effort extends down to the youth levels, where volunteer coaches play a role in training younger athletes who won’t be at the varsity level for a decade in some cases. That, Peterson noted, makes it easier for the high school coaches in each sport once players arrive at their level. 

Another component of Jackson’s success lies in getting large numbers of athletes to turn out for virtually every sport it offers. The track and cross country programs both have well over 200 combined boys and girls competitors and are just one example of what depth can do for a team.

There are also several Jackson teams whose sports aren’t sponsored by the Federal League or Ohio High School Athletic Association but which had impressive seasons of their own. Girls lacrosse and boys volleyball both reached the state tournament and boys lacrosse and gymnastics had strong years of their own.

Add all of those ingredients together and it comes out in Jackson’s favor for a record-setting fifth straight year. 

“We have kids who are disciplined and dedicated to the sports they’re in,” Peterson said. “We may not always have the fastest or strongest kids on the field, but you always know that we have the kids who worked their hardest to get where they’re at.”

Reach Andy at 330-580-8936
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