Selflessness comes easy
By Anna Rose Layden

“There are ‘band kids’ and then there are ‘kids in band.’ I’m a kid in band. There’s a difference.” says Jackson. The faces of the graduating seniors on the football team watch over the parking lot where the marching band rehearses.

The first half of a Friday night football game at Grayson County High School ends. As the team runs off the field and into the locker room, No. 16 heads in the opposite direction. He takes off his helmet, picks up a saxophone, and falls in line with the marching band.

In the stands, parents whisper, "Is that Jackson Kane? Is there a football player in the band? I had no idea. Wow."

An 18-year-old senior at GCHS in Leitchfield, Jackson keeps his plate loaded throughout the school year with football, soccer and band while maintaining high grades. And at the last home game of his high school career, he took advantage of the opportunity to merge his two worlds.
With days that can keep him at school for upwards of 12 hours, he is well-known to his educators and peers as an overachiever. "He's pretty impressive," says head football coach Bryan Jones. "I don't know of another kid who does as much and does it as well as Jackson does."

Jackson has played in the band since elementary school. And, with a mix of his genuine interest and his parents' encouragement, he continued through high school while playing soccer. Coach Jones approached him about joining football when the team needed a kicker. And he agreed, because he couldn't say no.

"That's the main reason I do 2 1/2 sports," Jackson says. "I have a hard time saying no to people. But I suck it up. I like making other people happy. I gotta do what I gotta do."
Acts of selflessness come naturally to him. When asked, he brings neighbor kids to school and pays for friends' snacks. During outdoor band practices, he brushes back his younger sister's hair when the wind loosens her ponytail. He gives others the solutions to classwork problems, talks to the kids no one else does, and can't help but move out of the way for other students while walking through the halls.

During the week, Jackson goes from practice to practice, calmly exiting the locker room and joining the wind instrument section in the parking lot. The divide between 'band kids' and 'jocks' is often broad. But at the only high school in Grayson County, it is a line that Jackson blurs. "I always have to turn on different parts of my brain after studying a whole (football) playbook and memorizing band choreography," he says. "I'm just trying to fit in, but it's hard when you have to fit in with two completely different groups."

The balancing act isn't always easy. Long weekends come, obligations beckon, and Jackson wishes for more sleep. Video games and his friendships provide relief from the chaos. But no matter how tired he may be, Jackson preserves a polite and friendly demeanor. "He's got the biggest smile in the school," says a family friend. While his future remains unclear, one thing is sure: Jackson Kane's time and energy spent at Grayson County High School have not gone to waste.

“We knew if we could get him through this year, he’d be just fine,” say Jackson’s parents, Amy and Scott, regarding their son’s full schedule. Once Jackson started driving, it made handling the load significantly easier.

“If you want to take band class, you have to do marching band,” says Jackson. “Mr. Bell wouldn’t even make an exception for me. I’m grateful for the class, it’s the main time that I’m able to practice.”

“These are not the ones they usually give out,” laughs Jackson’s friend Will (right) after seeing the breakfast burritos provided by the school cafeteria. “These look awful.”

Jackson removes his cleats and enters the locker room following football practice.

Just before 7 a.m., Jackson receives a text from a neighbor asking if he can pick up her children for school.

With the sun setting, the Grayson County Marching Cougars practice their number in the football stadium parking lot.

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen,” prays the Grayson County High School football team in the locker room before a game.

A smile quickly flashes across Jackson’s face as he plays with the band during halftime.

I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what’s next.