Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 9, 2013
SALISBURY — It has been a bittersweet year for David Jackson. The voice of Appalachian State University sports was named North Carolina Sportscaster of the Year for the second time by the National Sportscasters and Sportwriters Association. But it was also the year he lost his mother to cancer.
“This award means a little more to me this time around,” Jackson said. “I found out I had been nominated for the honor just three days after her funeral and my Dad and I were still dealing with the highs and lows of her health issues.” His mother Natalie, of Greensboro, was just 58 when she succumbed to her illness last November, and Jackson is quick to credit her for much of the success he has achieved in the broadcast business.
Jackson, 35, is a native of Greensboro and a graduate of Appalachian State. His dad Randy is a well-known television meteorologist in the Triad area and also serves on the broadcast team with his son as sideline reporter for Mountaineer football. He inherited his broadcasting genes from his father but it was his mother who taught him about success and failure, about how to handle criticism and how to prepare himself for the task. He recalls vividly the time he had an opportunity to get on the broadcast crew for basketball games while he was a student.
“I practiced a little bit then I put together a tape that I thought was the best thing ever,” Jackson recalled. “Well I played it for her and she was like…”that was awful”…”She was very critical when she needed to be but was also very supportive to help you through the good times and the bad.”
Jackson has been the voice of the Mountaineers in football, basketball and baseball for the past 13 years. He also host the Appalachian Football weekly show with new coach Scott Satterfield as well as the Mountaineer Basketball Show with Coach Jason Capel. On top of that he also serves as an associate athletic director which allows him to be involved with ASU alumni and supporters on a public relations and fundraising level. He was the NSSA North Carolina Sports Broadcaster of the year for the first time back in 2007 and he now serves on the organizations Board of Directors.
While he enjoys broadcasting and promoting all sports for the Mountaineers, his first love is baseball and again his mother played a integral role in that process. She was his “baseball mom” who drove him too all his games as a kid and also took him to see many minor league games over the years. Most special to him, however, was her ability to be part of and enjoy Appalachian State’s magical run to the NCAA baseball regionals in 2012 despite her illness. It was the first time in 25 years that the Mounties had reached that level and Jackson’s mom was along for the ride.
“Saying it was special is too simplistic, Jackson said. “It was a unique thing for us because we got to enjoy it together, that one last big ride.” While Jackson was broadcasting the game from the regionals in Charlottesville, Va., his mom was listening and sending him running commentary by instant messaging. “To go through that whole regional experience with her and her being able to understand what was going on was just amazing.”
Jackson also said he has become very close to the Holmes family from Rowan County whose sons Trey and Noah were part of that regional run, along with East Rowan’s Preston Troutman. He also looks forward to the arrival of Salisbury’s Brian Bauk on campus this fall to begin his college baseball career.
As for football, Jackson is very aware of the imminent arrival of North Rowan’s Will Robertson, plus Salisbury’s Parker McKeithan and Justin Ruffin to the ASU team this summer and fall. “This area has been tremendous for our school in all sports going back to West Rowan’s Donte Minter in basketball,” Jackson said. He also singled out golfer Lauren Smith of Salisbury High who just graduated from App. State this spring and is now working at the school in their YOSEF Foundation office.
“Not only is Lauren a tremendous golfer who can hit it a long way but she has a unique and effective way of relating to our alumni and supporters.”
Looking to this fall, Appalachian State is prepared to embark on a new football journey that will ultimately place them at the highest level of the sport, the FBS Bowl Championship division. They begin a two year transition this year by playing a full Southern Conference schedule but are now eligible for the title or playoffs. Next year they will move to the Division I Sunbelt Conference but will not be bowl eligible until 2015. It will be a big change for the caches and players and even for those in the broadcast booth.
“We want to be sure and celebrate the past associations and emphasize the elements of what is coming,” Jackson says. “We want to make sure the fans understand all the changes and be sure we are getting the right information out there.”
Jackson is currently living the dream at Appalachian but also says his dream job would be to someday become a play-by-play announcer for a Major League Baseball team.
“Appalachian State has been so great for me and my family so it would have to be a very special situation to get out of here.” Jackson says. “I just don’t have a wandering eye.”
Plus his mother is surely watching him from above.