Added motivation on game day from Dwayne Jackson – NBC2 NewsOctober 29, 2019
LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. – Lehigh Senior High School won their first football district championship in 14 years on Oct. 25. The Lightning won in commanding fashion, 40-6 over Gulf Coast to secure themselves a spot in the postseason.
But hours before celebrating on the football field, the football team was seated in the cafeteria very quietly listening to a message from a Fort Myers man.
That man was Dwayne Jackson, the founder of the local non-profit organization Hoops on Mission. Jackson is just like most of the players on Lehigh’s team, born and raised in Fort Myers and grew up very competitive, obsessing over sports.
He told them stories about the hardships he had overcome while growing up, and he channeled those struggles into passion on the basketball court. Jackson mentioned to them how in today’s culture, everyone wants a Division 1 scholarship. but not everyone is willing to “go through the mud for it.” He encouraged the Lightning to be willing to go through “the mud” and put in the long hours that it takes to be great, not just expect it to happen overnight.
“He touched their spirit, he is an example of a guy coming from where they come from. And that’s powerful, that’s the most powerful connection that anybody can have,” said Lehigh’s head coach James Chaney.
Jackson went on to explain how he gave up his teaching salary to become a missionary in his hometown to try and improve the lives of Fort Myers’ youth. He ended his 20 minutes with the team by leaving them with three things he wanted them to focus on.
“Three things I want you guys to remember. Everybody say team. Everybody say family. Everybody say mission. When you get out on the football field, it’s not about you, it’s about your team. It’s about the family. Do you give high fives to each other? What about when someone makes a mistake, do you tell them, ‘You will get them next time’? Are you really family, or are you just pump faking with it? You have the opportunity to really really focus. I always say every day is a mission. Tonight you are going to be on your mission and people will try and knock you out of your mission. But you will need one of your brothers to hold you up. We have to stay focused on our mission, and that takes family and team to stay on our mission,” said Jackson.
His message clearly hit home for the Lightning as they secured a playoff spot despite an 0-5 start to the season. At the end of his time with the Lehigh team, Jackson circled them up, prayed and gave out hugs.
Lehigh will end their regular season on Friday, Nov. 1 at East Lee County, and then will host a playoff game the following Friday night.