When the U16 Barrie Jr. Colts of the OMHA’s Eastern AAA Hockey League need someone to set an example and keep everyone in check, they look to captain Nolan Jackson.
“Nolan is vocal, he's punctual with time,” said head coach Ryan Johnson. “He holds his teammates accountable, and he pushes everyone else on our team to be better…
"There's not many players out there that will beat his work ethic. He's a workhorse.”
In his fifth straight season as a captain on the Jr. Colts, Jackson led all defencemen on his 24-9-3 team with 12 goals and 19 assists. At the same time, he didn’t let allow hockey to impact his studies, making sure to use his time wisely around games and practices to finish assignments.
“My parents always put it in my head that school was a lot is more important than hockey,” said Jackson. “And school comes first.”
The oldest of three siblings, Jackson said his younger brother likes to joke that he has more goals than the AAA captain. Such banter with his family is a testament to his outlook on improving his skills, as his dad helps him with workouts and training regimen in their basement.
In return, Jackson is determined to show them all the hard work he puts into his game.
“I can honestly say Nolan hasn't taken a night off physically or mentally for the past five years,” said Johnson.
His relationship with his family translates directly to his teammates and while Jackson insists there is not one sole leader on the team, he steps up in big scenarios.
“He doesn't take shortcuts. If we needed to weather a storm, Nolan was there. If we needed a spark, Nolan was there,” said Johnson. “Nolan often puts his team before himself, which has gained the respect of his teammates. He talks, they listen. That's what being a leader is all about.”
Share with your friends on Facebook and join the largest network of hockey parents.
Thomas Chiarot is a student in the Sport Journalism post-grad program at Centennial College. Follow him on Twitter @ThomasChiarot