Brad Jackson had gone straight from high school wrestler to collegiate grappler, finishing his career at Tyner High School and then transitioning to the team at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
After a year in college, however, Jackson decided to serve his country and joined the United States Marine Corps — where he also developed into an All-Marine wrestler and earned a tryout in the 1988 Greco-Roman Olympic Trials.
Jackson, the August 2019 TSSAA Distinguished Service recipient, hasn’t stopped serving others since that time. After stints both at his alma mater, Tyner, and East Ridge High School, he’s now Campus Support Specialist for Hamilton County Schools.
The military background, which included his service as a special weapons security officer on the USS Carl Vinson, provided the foundation for Jackson’s long career in public education, which has included time as a wrestling coach, administrator and work on the supervisory crew of the TSSAA’s state wrestling championships.
“It completely changed my mindset in the sense that I’m a lot more disciplined,” Jackson said. “I was exposed to so many different kinds of men and women in the Marines, and over those times I learned how to deal with different cultures and mentalities.
“It played a part in how I deal with things athletically and the discipline side in how I treat kids. I try to look at it through the lens of them. I got a lot of that wisdom, if you call it that, when I was in the Marines.”
In his current role, where Jackson serves as the secondary schools disciplinary hearing authority, he has a unique method to measure success in the position.
“I look to see that we had 329 disciplinary cases heard this past year, and only three were repeaters,” said Jackson, who has three daughters and whose wife, Shelly, is an assistant principal at Big Ridge Elementary. “I look at how many kids listened to my advice and counseling about how not to do things again, for them to look and see goals and purposes in life. This also correlates with our work with the InSideOut Initiative.
“Hopefully we can help them be better citizens. As Joe Ehrmann said in his book [InSideOut Coaching], I’ll let you know in 20 years.”
TSSAA is proud to recognize Brad Jackson for the commitment he has shown to the values and principles of educational athletics in Tennessee.