Walking the halls of an unfamiliar and new school, Jackson Hockaday had recently transferred from Mountain Heritage to North Buncombe for his senior year of high school.
Changing schools always presents challenges and opportunities, but Hockaday only had one desire in mind — to be a part something.
“I was always one of those kids looking for something, looking to be a part of a family,” Hockaday said. “And Coach (Joey) Bryson accepted me and my brother with open arms my senior year when I moved to North Buncombe. He helped me out and mentored us. He made sure we stayed on the right path.”
Not only was Hockaday accepted by his new coach and teammates, he was elected one of the team captain by his teammates for the varsity Blackhawks’ 2013-2014 season.
“My senior year I was elected captain by all my teammates and that gave me the ability to be kind of like an on-court coach, and it gave me a leadership role,” Hockaday said.
Through that leadership role, Hockaday realized he had a passion for coaching.
“I talked to Coach Bryson about possibly being a coach when the season ended, and he told me that I would always have a spot on his staff whenever I wanted to become a coach,” Hockaday said.
Hockaday decided he would take Bryson up on the opportunity.
“I called him one day two years ago, and I said I would d like to be a coach and help out at North Buncombe. He told me I could, and so I helped assistant coach with his JV program there,” Hockaday said.
Bryson left North Buncombe and came to West to teach social studies and coach men’s basketball in August, and Hockaday came along as well. He is currently assisting Bryson with the junior varsity men’s basketball program.
“He’s one of my favorite former players, and he coaches with the same passion and energy he played with. He’s an essential part of our coaching staff. I hope we have him on staff again next year,” Bryson said.
Hockaday said he has felt welcomed by West’s coaching staff and athletes.
“He really pushed us throughout the season to help us be the best we can be.” sophomore Jasper Thomas said.
Hockaday, a sophomore at Mars Hill University majoring in physical education with a concentration in coaching , plans to continue volunteering with the Falcon men’s basketball program as long as he is in college.
“I hope to continue to work at West as long as I can manage my school schedule and manage the drive,“ Hockaday said. “I’m thankful to have the opportunity to work with these kids. They’ve been fun and a pleasure to work with. They work hard, and it makes me look forward to coming to practice. Seeing them become successful and becoming better men in the process is special to me.”
Story by Kole Thomas