CU quarterback divides time among school, sports and his son
There are different ways of looking at a minute: 60 seconds, one 60th of an hour or even just a brief slice of time.
However, Colorado student-athlete Bernard Jackson has learned that what you accomplish with each minute is most significant.
“I try managing every minute throughout the day that I get and try to be as productive as I can with that time,” the junior said.
There’s a story behind each minute in Jackson’s life that few others share.
As he prepares for his senior year on the football field, last season’s starting quarterback continues to balance athletics along with his education and parenting duties as well.
Since his arrival to CU, head football coach Dan Hawkins has observed Jackson’s efforts.
“I have to give the guy a lot of credit. As a full-time student, an athlete and a parent, he has little or no free time. He has to be very focused and budget his time very well,” Hawkins said.
Those responsibilities tested the California-native even more when his 2-year-old son began having problems with his right eye. In his first year of life, Jayden Jackson developed a tumor in his eye. In December of 2005, doctors diagnosed the young boy with retinoblastoma, a cancer of the retina that causes loss of vision.
“The first week was very hectic because he was in and out of the hospital, so I knew I needed to be there to support him,” Jackson said.
Due to the tumor’s size, doctors were forced to remove Jayden’s eye and replace it with a prosthetic.
“It was tough. He handled it well,” Jackson said.
The ordeal gave Jackson a new perspective on life.
Shortly after, the student-athlete found himself vying for the starting quarterback position for the 2006 fall season. The team stood by him throughout his personal journey, one that taught him a great lesson in prioritizing, he said.
“The experience itself was an incredible impact. I took a lot from it as far as doing the things a father should do for his child like giving him all the love in the world and always making sure he is okay,” Jackson said.
Jackson had little time to slow down, knowing he needed to continue hitting his schoolbooks and playbooks just as hard as before.
Over a year after the operation, the cancer is gone and Jayden is healthy.
Notably, the battle did little to alter the boy’s tremendous enthusiasm, Jackson said.
Hawkins echoed Jackson’s sentiments.
“Jayden is a great kid, just like his dad. He is always running around with a big smile on his face. He’s fun to have around,” he said.
Although the experience had a critical impact on the student-athlete’s life and family, he acknowledges that it’s largely a part of the past. With all of his commitments, he does not have much time to dwell on the matter and would rather value the moments he gets with his son.
“I don’t get to see my son a lot throughout the day, and it is the best feeling in the world when I get the chance to call or see him,” he said.
Jayden currently lives with his mother, Brenda Burgos, in Boulder.
“His mom does a lot more than I am able to right now, and I respect her and love her a lot for that. She is a tremendous individual. My day will be there to be the best father in the world, and I am going to take advantage of that opportunity to the fullest extent.”
Hawkins has no doubt of Jackson’s capabilities as a father, considering his efforts on and off the field.
“Bernard really has a great life force. The guy has great energy, great passion and a big heart. He is very motivated, and he wants to please. He has a lot of those great qualities that you love to see in a person, which really helps him as a dad and football player,” Hawkins said.
And to Jayden, almost every minute with his father is another opportunity to practice his own football skills, said Jackson.
“He loves the game. Sometimes all he wants is a football to play with. ‘Ball, ball, ball,’ he says,” Jackson said.
Contact Campus Press staff writer Corey Jones at email@example.com.