Leading by Example

The crack of the bat as it connects with the ball. The rush of pride for making the catch. The camaraderie of friendships being forged on the field. For Coach Jessie Jackson and his RiverCats baseball team, it just does not get any better than this.

The Mansfield RiverCats boys have been playing together since 2007. “Our team came together because there was a group of us parents who were all friends, and we all had kids who played multiple sports together,” Jessie said. “We got together to start an organization where they could all continue to play on the same team, and we could bring more kids in, still allowing them the freedom to play multiple sports and not have to be specialized at such a
young age.”

Thanks to the support of the team parents and their title sponsor, the law offices of Brenda G. Hansen in Fort Worth, the RiverCats organization now boasts three age-based teams: 7-year-olds, 8-year-olds and a 10-and-under team — playing baseball, basketball and football. “We want to keep getting bigger every year. We think a good sports organization makes a real impact on our kids’ lives. No matter how big or small their involvement, that and we all had kids who played multiple sports together,” Jessie said. “We got together to start an organization where they could all continue to play on the same team, and we could bring
more kids in, still allowing them the freedom to play multiple sports and not have to be specialized at such a young age.” Thanks to the support of the team parents and their title sponsor, the law offices of Brenda G. Hansen in Fort Worth, the RiverCats organization now boasts three age-based teams: 7-year-olds, 8-year-olds and a 10-and-under team — playing baseball, basketball and football.

“We want to keep getting bigger every year. We think a good sports organization makes a real
impact on our kids’ lives. No matter
how big or small their involvement, that
impact is there for life,” Jessie added.
Jessie, a graduate from Arlington High School, where he also played
ball, has three athletic children: son,
Ommar, who is 9; and daughters, Miyah
and Nenah, 6 and 3, respectively. His
children are the reason he got into
coaching, something he now feels
passionate about. “I enjoy working with
kids. I think that’s probably my true
calling,” he shared.
This year, the 9-year-old RiverCats
baseball boys had two teams: the Black
team, beginners coached by head coach,
Roderick See, and assistant coaches,
CJ Washington, Leroy McKinnis and
Roland Lavine; and the Red team, more
advanced players coached by head coach,
Jessie, and assistant coaches, Justin
Jackson ( Jessie’s brother), Kim Mitchell,
Michale Cornish and Jay Valdez. “We
practice on Saturdays, Sundays and
Wednesdays and we play on Mondays
and Fridays. These boys and their
parents are really dedicated, obviously,
because that’s a lot of time spent on the
field,” Jessie pointed out. Jessie and his coaches work hard to
teach these children the fundamentals.
“Our coaching strategy is to focus on
baseball fundamentals. Run, catch and
throw, and don’t be scared of the ball,”
he explained. “We don’t teach bad
habits.

I do my research to make sure I’m
teaching them the right way to play. Our
goal is to prepare these kids for high
school ball. We plan on keeping them
together until they’re 14. We say, ‘If they
stay with us until then, they will make
their high school team.’”
Team mom, Rose Jackson, said, “One
thing that is amazing to me is to see
how much these players’ skills and
knowledge of the game has grown since
they were 7. I truly enjoy every game.”
Jessie proudly added, “Rose is the
coordinator; she’s the glue that keeps
everything together. Without her, it
wouldn’t happen. I just do the easy part
and work with the kids.”
The RiverCats played well their first
year, and thanks to determination and
talent, they have continued to improve
each year. “We ended up doing really
well in some of our tournaments, and
we went on to win the USSSA [United
States Specialty Sports Association] Class
A World Series our first year out. That
was awesome,” said Jessie, who speaks
highly of the Mansfield Youth Baseball
Association (MYBA). “Last year, the boys were 8. We did pretty well overall,
but our competition was a lot stronger,
which is a great thing. We competed in
the AAYBA [American Amateur Youth
Baseball Alliance] World Series. We
came in eighth place out of 32 teams.”
These young athletes might not yet
realize how Jessie’s sporting philosophies
carry over from the field to every other
aspect of life, but someday the truths he imparts will undoubtedly sink home.
“I’m not really a yeller. I ask for respect,
and I give respect in return. I call my
guys gentlemen,” he said. “We preach
coming out every day, working hard and
giving 100 percent. The way you practice
is the way you play. If you practice with
excellence, you will play with excellence.
Hard work beats talent every time when
talent doesn’t work hard.”
Having been coached by his father
for three years now, Ommar is showing
promising signs, despite never “catching
a break” from his coach/dad. “I want
him to be the best he can be, so I don’t
cut him any slack,” Jessie laughed.
“Ommar is a pretty quiet kid, but he’s
become more of a vocal leader. He tries
to lead by example, which is what I try
to do myself. It’s not about what you say;
it’s about what you do.”
After their exciting third season,
Coach Jessie and the RiverCats are
looking forward to the AAYBA World
Series tournament next month. As
always, Jessie will lead his boys onto the
field by example. “I try to let these boys
know the disciplines they’re learning
now are going to carry over to high
school and even to their jobs someday,”
he explained. “This is life. You work
hard at something if you want to be
successful at it.”

Written by Jaime Ruark