Imagine this: a student-athlete plays sports year-round. In fall sports, he stands as team captain on the fields of football and soccer. In the winter, he embraces the hardwood of the basketball court, and in the spring leads a surge in the competitiveness of lacrosse.
And the athlete is still a student with an impressive 4.5 grade point average established throughout high school tenure. You may say a student athlete of this caliber is simply a mirage of the ideal high school athlete. In actuality, this illusion is a manifested reality in Jackson Alford of Kentucky Country Day.
In the fall, Alford is a captain playing fullback and middle linebacker. In soccer, he is also a captain and positioned as defensive center back.
His versatility is evidenced in how heâ€™s able to play multiple sports year-round. He gives credit to his coaches by saying they understand and are gracious enough to allow him to leave one practice to go to another. Although he has the ability to play all these sports, he says his IQ is his strongest skill set.
â€œSeeing the field well and knowing what to do and when to do it just helps a lot, especially in football and soccer. Playing so much, you get a feel for it, so it comes second nature. I was playing football and soccer since the fifth grade; Iâ€™ve been doing it for a long time. A lot of the sports tie in to each other a lot. My soccer footwork definitely helps out on the football field.â€
Kentucky Country Day won nine of its first 10 games. In the soccer match-up with arch-rival Collegiate, Alford secured KCDâ€™s game-winning goal. He says it felt good â€“ so much so that he even endured some pain to celebrate.
â€œIt was the last time I ever got to play Collegiate, and that was the way I wanted to go out. That game was fun. I actually threw my shoulder out of place celebrating. It meant a lot,â€ he says.
Outside of sports, Alford is exceptionally dedicated to academics. After practices throughout the week, he spends about two to three hours on schoolwork. In his four years, he has gained a well respected 4.5 grade point average. He has interest from Emory University, Centre College and Denison University, where he looks to study finance and perhaps, one day, be a lawyer.
He claims that his ability to balance his time is the main reason he is able to do well in school. â€œA lot of it is personally driven. Going to KCD, I know that I have to do well. It is a great school, and my teachers help a ton. Most of the time, you have to be efficient with time. Going to two practices a day, I have to get my work done when I can get it done. So I would say using my time wisely has been the reason I have been able to do well in school.â€
KCD soccer Head Coach Barnard Baker describes Alford as, â€œthe kid I wanted to hang out with [in high school]. He is funny. He is one of those guys people want to be around and is very charismatic when it comes to that.â€
When taking a brief break from athletics during the summer time, Alford displays his confidence and commitment through community involvement. For the past two years, he has been in charge of a service project called â€œThe Shirt.â€
â€œWe make a shirt every year for the entire KCD community. I design it and send out order forms to the entire lower, middle and upper school,â€ he explains. â€œThe money made this year is going to the Gildaâ€™s Club, and last season, it went to Cabbage Patch. Thatâ€™s one of my main community service projects.â€
As a leader on and off the field, Alford says he leads by example. He has assisted on many of his teamâ€™s goals this season, and outside of sport, he seeks to assist them with everyday life.
â€œI know it can be challenging at times to balance athletics and school, so I offer my help whenever I can. And if they need anything, I hope they will come and talk to me.â€
For a cool KCD Bearcat who never lives on life nine, Alford keeps his composure under pressure by living by his motto: â€œWhatever youâ€™re doing, just have fun with it.â€
Photo by RANDYÂ WHETSTONE JR. | Contributing Photographer