Seahawks CB Mike Jackson returns home, hosts Mike Jack Experience camp at Spain Park

Published 11:49 am Monday, June 24, 2024

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

HOOVER – Spain Park High School was covered in Seattle Seahawks green as one of its most notable alumni returned to give back to the Hoover community.

Spain Park alum and current Seahawks cornerback Mike Jackson brought The Mike Jack Experience Football Camp to Spain Park High School on Saturday, June 22.

“I feel like it went good,” Jackson said. “It was great to have it back out here at Spain Park at my old high school.”

Throughout the free camp, Jackson and his team of coaches led the campers through drills, games and 7-on-7 competition at both Spain Park’s stadium and its practice field.

Kids attending the camp got to learn from not just Jackson, but other current NFL players like Quincy Williams, a Jets cornerback, Birmingham native and Wenonah High School alum, and Cardinals cornerback and former UAB player Starling Thomas.

Jackson also brought multiple former college athletes and youth football coaches to help lead the scores of kids who came out to learn the game of football.

In previous years, Jackson held the camp at G.W. Carver High School in Birmingham, but this was the first year that his alma mater Spain Park hosted the day’s festivities.

Spain Park head football coach Tim Vakakes welcomed Jackson with open arms and even showed up to help coordinate the camp. He said it was a no-brainer to help host the camp since Jackson started his football journey at Berry Middle School and Spain Park High School.

When he first approached me asking if he could have the camp here, I said, ‘Absolutely,’” Vakakes said. “This is home. This is where he played up the hill when he was at Berry and came down the hill and went through Spain Park. He’s one of our sons and he’s obviously playing at the highest level. He can have this camp every summer if he wants to.

Jackson spent some time reminiscing on his high school playing days, and he said it’s a meaningful moment for him to return to a place where he honed his craft more than anywhere else.

“It means a lot,” Jackson said of hosting the camp at Spain Park. “Once I came out to the practice field, I saw remembering old plays that I had. Same thing with the game field, this is home. I used to work out here all the time in the summer, so I probably spent more hours on this field than any other field I’ve ever played on.”

That work ethic was one of the many skills he taught the campers during the day. The kids continued to learn and play even as temperatures soared into the 90’s and enjoyed themselves in the process.

“Just work hard,” Jackson said. “People don’t realize hard work is a skill, so work hard. There’s going to be days where it’s going to be hot, days where you don’t feel like it. Just push through it and have fun doing it.”

In addition to the players and coaches who showed up to help with the camp, Jackson’s family and other members of the community assisted as coaches or with running the many logistics of bringing a large and free camp to Spain Park.

Jackson was grateful for his friends and family who braved the heat to help him give back to the community once again.

“It means a lot because it just shows that people actually genuinely care about what I’m trying to do because everybody says they’re willing to help out, but it’s different once you actually think, ‘I’ve got to go outside in this heat for a guy who I might have only met once or twice or haven’t seen in years,’” Jackson said. “So, it means a lot for them to take time out of their day to come out here and spend it.

To Vakakes, the selflessness of Jackson’s friends and family reflects back on Jackson himself since they were willing to take time out of their weekend to help a man who means so much to them.

“The thing about it is, you know Mike’s love when he has so many people that are here volunteering their time to put on the camp,” Vakakes said. “That just shows what kind of person he is, that he has all these volunteers that are out here on Saturday, sweating, putting in a lot of work just because he’s trying to put on the camp.”

Jackson and Spain Park both hope to continue hosting The Mike Jack Experience at the Jags stadium for years to come as part of his ongoing goal to grow football in his hometown.