Every year about this time, local schools get back to the business of getting ready for the fall sports program. Jackson Ironmen fans will notice some notable changes for the athletic program at Jackson High School with a new league, a new athletic director and with major improvements being made at Alumni Stadium. Both Jackson City Schools Superintendent Phil Howard and JHS Principal Thad Haines commented on the changes as the school's fall sports teams prepare for the 2017 season.
After a 92-year run in the now defunct Southeastern Ohio Athletic League, the Ironmen will be entering a new athletic conference, the Frontier Athletic Conference (FAC) to start the 2017-2018 school year. The new athletic affiliation will take the JHS athletic team trips westward as a whole new chapter in sports competition begins. Those league trips will be to: Chillicothe, Greenfield McClain, Hillsboro, Miami Trace and Washington Court House. All those schools were members of the former South-Central Ohio League.
Howard says the Ironmen sports teams are up to the challenge of a new league and learning about a host of new teams which will be on the schedule.
"This is going to be an exciting sports year for the Jackson Ironmen," Howard told The Telegram. "We have a new athletic director, Mr. Pat Stevens, the former Greenfield-McClain Athletic Director, who has taken over for the retired Bob Kight." Also, Howard noted there is a new diamond-vision scoreboard up at Jackson's Alumni Stadium and in the JHS gym.
Both administrators stated the JHS teams are ready for the challenge of a new league and expect new rivalries to grow.
"The beginning of our new league is sure to bring about some new rivalries and the formation of new friendships for our students, coaches and fans," commented Howard.
Haines added Jackson, with the exception of Chillicothe, has not been real close to the other teams in the FAC but they have faced some of those schools in the past in certain sports. However, the principal says, this year is all part of the growth-and-change process and he is glad the local athletes will have a league championship trophy to shoot for as well as All-League honors.
This particular school year also brings in a new chapter in leadership as Stevens takes the athletic department reins. He is no stranger to Jackson as he was an outstanding student-athlete at Jackson High School, graduating in 1985.
"We are fortunate to have Pat leading our athletic department," said Haines. "He is very experienced, a good fit and is very familiar with schools in our new league. We also want to thank Bob Kight for the tremendous job he did and for leaving Mr. Stevens in excellent shape."
Howard pointed out the new season brings a new type of both entertainment and information in the form of video scoreboards.
"We are especially excited about the new video boards in both the gym and at the stadium," Howard commented. "We think it will add a lot to the atmosphere for our fans and the players and I can't wait to see the creativity from our technology department and the students in our new media technology class in terms of what they will be able to do with it. We take a lot of pride in our facilities here in the Jackson City School District and are blessed that we live in a community where people truly value education and our youth and have shown it by providing us with such fine buildings and facilities."
The fall sports season will soon begin with one of the headline games being the Jackson-Wellston season-opening football game at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 26 at Alumni Stadium.