Mark Jackson, Senior Associate Athletic Director at the University of Southern California, begins his story by saying how great it was to get the job at USC once Coach Pete Carroll was hired as head coach in December of 2000.
He remembers it as an incredibly important day, comparing the sensation to the smoke rising from the Vatican. He was so fortunate that Carroll was cognizant of Jackson’s situation with his father; it was a great opportunity to be able to tell his dad that he was taking the next step with Coach Carroll.
Mark Jackson’s father died on Christmas Day in 2000, just a week or so after Carroll took the job at USC. For Jackson, he says the timing was special.
It’s difficult for Jackson to separate Coach Carroll from WinForever. “WinForever explains what Pete Carroll is about, and that’s not easy with two words,” Jackson tells WinForever. “The ‘winning’ piece of WinForever throws a lot of people off because that’s not what this thing is about. It’s about competing in everything you’re doing—as a dad, as a husband, as a friend, as a coach.”
Jackson has jumped around from different industries in searching for his passion. He went to Syracuse to presumably attack the Athletic Director route, and then joined the Oakland Raiders on the General Manager route. He’s now back at USC working in athletic administration—and told us he would be lying if he said he know he was or what he wanted to do along the way.
It wasn’t until the time he came back to USC before he realized he’d rather work in athletic administration opposed to in the NFL. “I took the time to write, to figure out who I was, what I was about, that I realized being in college athletics feels right to me.” Jackson exclaims.
“My four walls in my house are based on a foundation of competition—that is directly related to Pete and what he taught me,” said Jackson. “Not so much as it relates to football and athletics, but to compete in everything we do in every way, in every conversation, and in every relationship.“
“I think this message about winning forever and always competing applies way more to parenting than it does coaching,” Jackson says. He hopes we can influence parents to push past the college scholarship and onto the development of the person, because that’s what really matters.
“It teaches you to not only compete as an athlete, but a person.”
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