He’s a rising golf phenom who made plenty of noise on Rhode Island-based courses during the spring and summer months. He’s also a member of his school’s varsity boys soccer team that conquered all en route to capturing the state championship.
The question is, are there lessons from Max Jackson’s golf exploits that are applicable when he’s in a soccer setting? It’s common to hear about the football player who also competes in basketball in the winter followed by baseball in the spring. There’s a definite crossover where you can pull one aspect from one sport and apply it to the other.
Soccer And Golf?
You don’t often hear about the same student-athlete playing – and excelling – in both. That’s what makes Jackson’s tale so ripe with reasons to be shared with the masses.
In the eyes of the La Salle Academy sophomore – someone who probably needs to build another shelf to accommodate all the trophy moments he’s been associated with this year – there are pieces from each sport that can be applied when the time comes to sink a long putt or make a 1-on-1 move against a defender close to the goal.
“Soccer gives me that team aspect that I also don’t forget about in golf. For high school golf, sometimes you have to make different decisions that help the team when you’re competing for a championship … sacrifices that you don’t have to worry about when you’re playing by yourself in the summer,” said Jackson. “There are five other guys on the La Salle golf team. If the championship is on the line, maybe you make a different decision. That’s when a team sport like soccer comes into play.
“It shows I can be on a team with great teammates who I love coming out to practice with each day. Then there’s an individual aspect that teaches you to solve problems on your own,” Jackson added. “Both will be useful not just with sports but in other parts of life … dealing with a project that you have to do with your co-workers or completing paperwork for yourself.”
It became a familiar site to see Jackson enter golf’s winner’s circle. The young phenom from Cumberland and Pawtucket Country Club romped to a seven-shot victory at the R.I. Interscholastic League Golf Championship that took place this past May at Cranston Country Club. The Friday before the Fourth of July, Jackson held on for a one-shot win at the Junior World Series of Golf at Triggs Golf Course.
The summer to savor on the links reached its zenith in August at Rhode Island Country Club when Jackson outlasted four challenging opponents in as many days to capture the RIGA Boys’ Junior Amateur title. Not too shabby for a 15-year-old with a golfing universe still waiting to be tamed.
2021 Junior Boys' Player of the Year, Max Jackson, @PawtucketCC.
— Rhode Island Golf Association (@RIGAlinks) November 17, 2021
“It was one opponent at a time just like soccer where it’s one game at a time,” said Jackson.
Eventually, the peak of the golf season faded with decisions of what club to hit giving way to the next objective on Jackson’s to-do list. Soccer season was on the horizon and he had every intention of becoming a key piece for La Salle head coach Mario Pereira after Jackson spent his freshman season on junior varsity.
“Usually, the captain’s practices would be at night during the summer. There wasn’t that much interference but playing soccer at La Salle is one of the reasons why I came here, as well as golf,” said Jackson.
High school soccer is a six-day-a-week commitment with practices giving way to games. If time permitted at night, Jackson would head to a driving range in an attempt to scratch his golf itch – and keep his swing sharp.
“I also have a net in my garage and would play on the weekends before it got too cold,” said Jackson. “I’ll definitely be going to an indoor simulator to keep sharp.”
Whether it’s soccer or golf, the importance of staying cool cannot be underscored.
“It’s very hard to play golf when you’re angry or your emotions are all over the place. During those tense moments in soccer, it’s just as important to keep your emotions in check,” said Jackson. “Being in those stressful moments in golf really help when the game is coming down to the wire.”
“Max is Max,” said Pereira. “He takes everything he does seriously.”
With the La Salle soccer program, Jackson made it a priority to earn his keep. Through hard work and dedication, he wanted to prove to his teammates that he could be counted upon. The best way to turn the tide in one’s favor is through production like the two-goal output that Jackson registered against Cumberland High on Oct. 20.
I spy La Salle sophomore/Cumberland native Max Jackson with his finger raised. Now has a state soccer title to go along with his #RIIL individual golf title and @RIGAlinks Junior Am title. Incredible 2021 for him. https://t.co/KDr03yebKY
— Brendan McGair (@BWMcGair03) November 14, 2021
“I DON’T CONSIDER MYSELF A MAJOR PART OF THE SUCCESS, BUT IT’S NICE TO BE ABLE TO HELP THE TEAM AND HOPEFULLY MAKE OTHER PEOPLE BETTER,” SAID JACKSON, LISTED AS A MIDFIELDER ON THE RAMS’ SOCCER ROSTER. “WE HAVE SOME OF THE BEST SOCCER PLAYERS IN THE STATE ON THIS TEAM. TO BE ABLE TO COMPETE WITH THEM IS AN HONOR. THEY’VE MADE ME BETTER.”
There’s a running joke on the soccer team and in the La Salle hallways. They want to take on Jackson in golf.
“Usually, they’re asking for a lot of strokes,” he said with a smile.
All kidding aside, it’s been a six-month stretch where wins for Jackson were achieved individually stage and collectively. La Salle’s finishing touch to a perfect soccer season culminated with a 1-0 win over North Kingstown in the Division I final held Nov. 14.
Filled with an even deeper appreciation of his two sports of choice, Jackson said, “We didn’t win the RIIL golf team championship even though I wanted it badly. We worked so hard in soccer. To not finish off with a championship would have been tough.”
—And for a Fall/Winter update on the RIIL, Stone Freeman interviewed RIIL Executive Director Mike Lunney