"The Man Behind the Legend of THS"
December 24, 2015 (More Photos on Facebook) - An event was held at the Tenaha ISD cafeteria on Saturday, December 18, 2015 to honor Coach Raymond Jackson for his contributions to Tenaha ISD and the people of Tenaha. Coach Scott Tyner was the master of ceremony.
Keith Evans was the keynote speaker for the event and during his address he stated how much Coach Jackson meant to him and how much he always wanted to be like him and what he learned from him as a student.
"I think about Coach Jackson and what he did for me. Let me tell you about that servant leadership. Everybody wants to be a perfect leader, but everybody's not being the servant. Coach Raymond Jackson served this town with his blood, sweat, and tears. He's the reason we're all here today," said Evans.
Evans learned from Jackson the adage, a quitter will never win and a winner will never quit. In applying that to his life he has always been able to come out on top because Jackson instilled in his players to never give up and if you believe, you can achieve against all odds.
Gloria Swindle said she played basketball for Coach Jackson and she shared some stories of her experiences having Jackson as her coach. She says she wasn't quite understanding what he wanted her to do when shooting free-throws
"We played a game one Tuesday night and I remember him pulling me out of class, he and Clark Partin they were up there, and he made me shoot free-throws. The school was small enough, I was pulled out of my class and I shot free-throws for three straight hours, and I can tell you from that day on I never missed any free-throws," said Swindle.
She reminisced about how he was always kind and she recalled playing her first college basketball game in Kilgore with Jackson and Partin watching from the stands.
"That meant a lot to me and I remember how it made me feel. I just want to say thank you for honoring him, and I thank Sylvia [Jackson] and Ray [Jackson] and Randy [Jackson] for sharing him," said Swindle.
Franklin Harris remembered Coach Jackson being the only athletic coach during his time at Tenaha ISD for football, basketball and track.
"He didn't show favoritism or anything like that, it didn't make a difference what color you [were] or anything like that. He was really the same to just about everybody," said Harris.
Harris said basketball was not his strong suit, but he remembers football practices being tough.
"One of the things that really stuck out for me that during practice one day a yellow jacket, I told Randy this, came in and hit me in my neck. You talk about Skoal in the face, but I got Skoal in a little bit different place. I told coach, 'Coach Jackson, hey look, I got a yellow jacket bite. I need to go to the house or something.' He said, 'Come here Franklin,' I came to him and said, 'what, what?' So, he gets a chaw out of his mouth, slaps it on my neck, rubbed it in and you know I was going, 'whoa!' But you know what? The sting went away!"
The audience erupted in laughter at Harris' retelling and the fact he had to return to practice. Harris stated Coach Jackson is an icon for Tenaha and things are very different from the time he graduated in 1988.
"The heritage that was built, you know he started, him and Coach Barton when I came through, them two were [very close] and they were some great guys. They were kind, they did help us out a lot, they did show us and help us men grow up to be a man," said Harris.
Harris continued by saying Coach Jackson really cared and anyone that listened to him has gone far in life.
Cassandra Bering, a 1984 graduate of Tenaha High School, was glad to be at the event and stated her heart has always been in Tenaha, because of the investment made in her life in Tenaha.
"Where Coach Jackson fits in is where he helped me to define my gifts. Keith said it another way, 'I don't think you're making it to WBA, but you have the talent and you're going to go great places and you're going to do great things in life. You have a wonderful mind,'" said Bering.
Encouragement was what Bering says Jackson gave to her as she shared she lived in poverty and did not have a dad present, "He had an ability to speak life into what seemed like a dark doom situation, and that's kind of how I viewed myself."
Bering recalled a bus trip from cheerleading and drill team when the students were singing in the back of the bus. She was one of those students and it was recognized by a teacher she had a good singing voice. It then became her responsibility to sing the school song from the press box every game.
"Every day that I would see Coach Jackson he would say, 'You give us a boost when you sing the school song.' So, I just believe that when someone pours into you their gift there is a law of reciprocity that you give back," said Bering.
Bering took that opportunity to sing the school song, a cappella, as she used to prior to the school having a band.
Robert Barton, Tenaha ISD Board President, took to the stage to make a presentation to Coach Raymond Jackson's family who were accepting on his behalf.
"Coach Jackson loved y'all, I'm telling you, he adored y'all. Many times took money out of his pocket, I know I was there. Bought shoes for people, gave money to kids to go eat," said Barton. "About a month ago there was a guy come to a football game, he was writing a story about high school football and he interviewed me. He said, 'when did y'all start winning?' I said, 'when we hired Coach Jackson.'"
Barton presented a plaque to Sylvia Jackson, Raymond Jackson's wife, and to their two sons Ray and Randy. The plaque read: In honor of Coach Raymond Jackson, for your dedication to the Students of Tenaha ISD, 1978 - 2000. Overall Head Coaching Record 167-80-5, 1998 State Champions. Tenaha Basketball Coach 15 District Champions, 12 Regional Tournament Appearances, 2 State Tournament Appearances. The Man, The Myth, The Legend.
Randy Jackson thanked everyone for attending and said he realized how difficult that can be on a Saturday afternoon.
"Thank you Natalie and Gloria I think the proudest coaching job is you and Gloria. I just heard him say that, so many times, just about how bad you really were Gloria," said Jackson, whose statement was met with roaring laughter.
He continued by talking about learning to coach and as time has progressed, and the longer he has coached, he has realized just how Coach Ray Jackson really knew what he was doing.
"Years ago, I guess I've been coach 16 years, and I was around Texarkana and the referees back then would say they knew my dad, they would just speak so highly of him, you know he was pretty calm on the side," said Jackson. "By the second quarter, you know I'm not like him at all, I'm rippin' on them and I know they're going, 'he's not as nice as his dad.'"
Jackson related just how much his father loved the athletes.
"I've moved so many times, I just don't understand, he just wanted to be right here. I asked him the other day, 'why didn't we never move?' he said, 'well, you get somewhere you get comfortable, you just need to stay.'"
“Coach” Raymond Jackson, 76, of Tenaha, passed away two days following the event on Monday, December 21, 2015, at his residence.