He turned a midseason ankle injury
into a new means to help the team
By Bruce Smith
Jackson Coleman and his father had a lot to talk about the 2011-12 Olympus High School basketball season.
“My dad played football and broke his foot his junior year (in high school),” Coleman said. “Then he came back his senior year and ended up winning state (championship), so we talked about how important it was to come back from an injury.”
And how to recuperate during it – both physically and mentally.
The highlight of Coleman’s senior year wasn’t a highlight – more like the opposite. The 6-foot-5 senior forward was only used to having success on the basketball court when he landed on teammate Coulson Hardy’s foot in practice and fractured his left ankle.
But instead of moping about it, he adjusted quickly.
“It taught me a bunch of big-time life lessons,” he said. “Like how to be a teammate.”
Coleman started the school year playing for the Olympus golf team. He carded an 82 at the state tournament and was one of the team’s top finishers. He was expecting even more in basketball.
Coleman averaged almost 10 points a game before the injury, and was one of the team’s deadliest outside shooters. He scored 12, 15 and 16 points in a three-game span against Woods Cross, Alta and Highland – a time when the rest of the Titans’ offense wasn’t doing much more combined.
However, after an 11-point effort in Oly’s 83-53 victory over Hillcrest, he wasn’t seen on the court again for a month.
“I felt it pop,” he recalled. “I had that uneasy feeling. The guys came and helped me up. I tried to walk it off, but it felt way unstable. It swelled up a ton. The next morning there was a lot of bruising. I knew I was going to be out for a while. I went to St. Marks (Hospital). They x-rayed it and they found a little crack in the bone.”
The doctors told him it would take 4-6 weeks to heal. Turns out they were about right. The healing in his head, however, occurred far more quickly.
“Stats wise, this season wasn’t what I hoped for, but that didn’t matter,” he said. “It couldn’t have gone any better building me character-wise. I learned to play a much different role.”
Coleman was on crutches, and then wore a walking boot. He went to almost every practice, and every game. He sat behind the team bench and tried to encourage his teammates. He was proud of how they adjusted, particularly guys like Will Cannon, Nick Barney, Stuart Pace and Hardy.
“All of us were really tight and they had to step up,” he said. “Stu filled the role that I had and it helped a lot, especially in the state tournament. Guys were used to having to step up.”
By that time, Coleman had returned, but it was rough. He said he had to have his ankle taped heavily before each game and felt uncomfortable.
He played briefly in Oly’s 54-45 win at Skyline and got additional minutes in the “Senior Night” win over Murray, where the Titans won the Region 7 title.
“Coach Barnes kept talking to me and he said he would try to work me into the starting lineup, but it worked out better with me coming off the bench,” he said.
Coleman’s play picked up in the 4A state tournament, but he saved his best effort for the state championship game.
“That was my best game,” he said. “It was the first time I felt 100 percent after my ankle injury. I was able to play and didn’t have to worry about any pain.
“I’ll always remember that game,” he added. “All the alumni, and we had so much support, especially our students. I remember looking around and seeing so much support. It was wild.”
Coleman scored 11 points and tied his career high with eight rebounds in Oly’s 58-50 loss. He said the atmosphere, the fans and the healthy feeling he had was almost intoxicating, despite the loss.
“We all felt like we accomplished a lot. We would have liked to win it all, but it was still a great ride.”
The ankle problem didn’t ruin Coleman’s golf game, and he planned to try to continue his basketball career at Multnomah University in Portland, Ore., where his brother, Seth, attends.