There is life after Dallas High School football for Ted and Sandy Jackson. It’s not the same life they had for the 27 years Ted was head football coach of the Mountaineers but it’s a good life, nonetheless.
The Shavertown couple recently returned from a motor trip to the state of Wyoming where they assisted daughter Jill, a magna cum laude graduate of Ithaca College, begin her first clinical rotation in pursuing a doctorate in physical therapy.
They’re dog sitting for son, Matthew, while he’s in San Francisco training for a new job involving robotic surgery equipment.
Then there are those two beautiful little grandsons, Max and Jared, the sons of oldest son Ted Jr. and his wife, Robin.
Ted Sr. will be inducted into the Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in Harrisburg this Saturday, making him one of just 230 coaches to receive the honor since 1986. This year’s inductees will be introduced at the Big 33 football game, an annual contest between the best players from Pennsylvania and Maryland.
“It couldn’t have come at a better time,” Sandy said of the award, referring to her husband’s dismissal last year by the Dallas School Board.
Ted has chosen Ted Jr. to present the award to him and, although Jill and Matt are unable to attend the awards ceremony, the Jackson family will fill several tables at the event with members of both Ted’s and Sandy’s families, as well as several friends, planning to attend.
When given the opportunity to select a presenter, Ted. Jr. was a no-brainer. He played for his father at Dallas and the two coached side-by-side for years with Ted Jr. running the Mountaineers offense. The two will be together on the football field again this fall when Ted Sr. joins the coaching staff at Wyoming Valley West where Ted Jr. is the offensive coordinator.
After being replaced at Dallas following a hotly-contested school board decision, Ted Sr. spent a year as a member of the Misericordia University football coaching staff when that school re-instituted the sport to its athletic program.
“It was challenging,” Ted said of the time he spent with the Cougars. “All the kids were new to me. I was learning as much as they were, reading and learning a system that wasn’t my own.
“The kids were great, though,” he added, indicating he had just concluded a spring practice session with the college players.
As for the decision of the Dallas School Board, Ted says it was “absolutely wrong” to fire him.
“They didn’t only lose me, they lost nine coaches,” he said, adding that all of his assistants left with him. “And, they didn’t follow their own protocol.”
The Jacksons have a filed a lawsuit against the Dallas School District in the case.
That aside, Ted and Sandy’s life always has always and continues to revolve around football.
Sandy was a regular at Dallas football games and, last year, became a fan of the Misericordia football team. Both Ted and Sandy attended Valley West football games because of Ted Jr.’s involvement with the team and Sandy, no doubt, will become a fixture at Spartans’ games this year.
“My dad died during football season one year,” Sandy said, “and we made sure to plan his funeral around the football schedule.”
Daughter Jill arrived during a bye week of the year she was born and made her first public appearance at a Mountaineer football game when she was just two weeks old.
Although his coaching style was sometimes controversial, Ted’s success on the football field cannot be denied.
The livingroom of the Jackson’s Belford Street home is filled with memorabilia from Ted’s coaching days at Dallas, a career that ended with a 231-76-3 record, making him the winningest coach in school history.
In his 27 seasons, his Mountaineer teams won 15 Wyoming Valley Conference titles, three District 2 titles, four Eastern Conference titles and the PIAA Class A state title in 1993.
He produced undefeated regular seasons in 1994 and 2010 and his teams had a 24-game winning streak from 1993-1994.
Ted is a 15-time Wyoming Valley Conference Coach of the Year, a Big 33 game assistant coach in 1995 and led the East to victory in 2001 as head coach of the PSFCA East/West Game.
He was named Best High School Athletic Coach in the Back Mountain in The Dallas Post’s Best of the Back Mountain reader contest for five consecutive years from 2008-2013. He was also named Coach of the Decade by the Citizens’ Voice in 2009 and was inducted into the Luzerne County Sports Hall of Fame in 2011.
Ted’s coaching style leads to some serious story-telling, a lot of which went on during a banquet honoring him last year and attended by more than 400 people.
And both Ted and Sandy don’t hesitate to join in the story-telling.
Ted will tell you his players were not allowed to remove their helmets during practice without permission from a coach, attesting to his strict disciplinary style.
“I remember we lost to Crestwood one time and we shouldn’t have,” he said. “I made them wear their helmets home. That’s when I got yelled at by mothers.”
Sandy remembers a time when the Mountaineers played an afternoon game on a day the prom was being held in the evening.
“The team had lost and Ted made them stay on the field and practice,” she said, interrupting her husband when he began to tell the story. “All the mothers were waiting to take their kids home to get ready for the prom. I was waiting for Ted with my mom and dad. One of the mothers came up to me and said, ‘What’s wrong with your parents?’ I said, ‘Excuse me’ and the mother asked, ‘How could they let you marry a maniac like that?’”
Stories like that have been told time and time again, some at the seven weddings of former Dallas football players which Ted and Sandy have attended and many more will be told at the four graduation parties of Mountaineers players to which they have been invited this year.
Strict discipline has been a part of Ted’s entire life and punishment for wrong-doings as a boy always involved getting a haircut.
“When I did something wrong, I’d have to go to the barbership on a Saturday morning,” he said. “There was one chair, eight old guys and I’d have to wait my turn. It took me four hours to get a haircut. All my friends would walk by and laugh at me.”
Although Sandy says people everywhere have been supportive and she has never heard a bad word about her husband in public, whether’s she at church or in the grocery store, both she and Ted sometimes feel like they’ve “been torn from the community.”
The Jacksons, though, along with their children, have remained steadfast to each other and to Ted’s coaching career. The football community, obviously with Ted’s most recent accolades, continues to applaud his coaching ability.