Jackson Sole is finishing up an 11-varsity-letters career at Lower Cape May Regional High School with a 3.9 grade point average as he prepares to enter Virginia Tech in late August to study agricultural business.
The 5-10, 165-pounder has overcome personal tragedy with the loss of his father and has dealt with a nagging ankle injury that he rolls over every now and then. The cure for that weight-bearing joint is rest, and that’s not what the 18-year-old Cold Spring resident is all about.
His coaches recognize his leadership by example approach. He served as captain of the football team and despite the squad’s lack of overall success and a tender ankle, Sole earned second team All-CAL as a defensive back.
“Jackson is one of those kids who over-achieves,” said Mike Wilson, Sole’s football coach all four years. “He mentally sets out to do something and follows through with it. Jackson’s always positive and does whatever he’s asked to do. He comes from a great family and he’s faced adversity with the loss of his father at a very young age. He’s making his dad very proud right now.”
Sole remains confident about his effort in football.
“I tried my best and worked hard all four years,” said the son of Betsy and the late Gene Sole. “I tried to consistently improve my game. I tried to be a leader, but it’s tough on the guys when we lose so many games.”
Of his three interscholastic sports Sole said he enjoyed “the intensity” of football the most and cherishes the memory of defeating rival Middle Township in the annual Thanksgiving Day “Anchor Bowl” game in his junior year.
Sole’s academic achievements earned him the distinction of Student-Athlete Scholar by the National Football Foundation. The recognition included a $500 scholarship.
As a four-year wrestler, Sole registered 21 victories as a junior and 19 last winter. He battled the ankle and his counterparts to earn All-CAL Honorable Mention.
“I had a good career,” he said. “It helped me stay in great shape and our team was always very competitive.”
Sole, whose brother, Tyler, is enrolled at Ohio State, called wrestling his “toughest sport, mentally and physically.” He said his key to success was to “out-work” his opponent, “when the guy across from me began tiring.”
Caper-Tiger wrestling coach Rocky Ciccozzi called Sole “a wonderful kid” and a “stand out student-athlete.”
Sole was one of Ciccozzi’s team captains.
“In class and on the mat he’s outstanding,” said Ciccozzi. “He’s one of those kids you’ll really miss when he’s gone. You go through a cycle of kids each year and he’s one of those that a coach and a teacher will really miss.
Sole, an Eagle Scout, started playing lacrosse in the Avalon Recreation Program in seventh grade. He’d played baseball and soccer through sixth grade but those sports didn’t provide enough speed or action for him.
The Caper-Tigers had no lacrosse feeder program at the time.
As Sole became an upper classmen he found himself teaching the freshmen how to catch and throw the ball. Since that time Lower Township Recreation instituted a youth league and knowledge of the fundamentals is improving.
“We have a good freshman class this year,” said Sole. “There should be a bright future with that feeder program underway.”
A mid-fielder, Sole has registered 37 goals through Sunday.
“Lacrosse is my favorite because it’s a combination of everything with hockey, soccer and basketball-type defense,” he said.
Naturally, Caper-Tiger lacrosse coach Frank Zilinek installed Sole as a team captain.
“I can’t say enough nice things about him,” said Zilinek. “He’s highly motivated and very active in the community. He’s been a great leader on and off the field. He helps keep the team in line. He’s an extension of a coach on the field.”
Sole not only works hard on the athletic field and in the classroom, but he’s also involved in family businesses with The Washington Inn and Cape May Winery.
He hopes to make a name for himself at the large university in Blacksburg, Va. As he looks back on his years in Erma, he has few regrets.
“I tried to always give my best, 100 percent all of the time,” said Sole. “I wanted to lead by playing and being the best I could be.”
As for advice to freshmen and sophomores looking to follow in his footsteps, Sole offers words of wisdom.
“Focus and practice and keep it up,” he said without hesitation. “Distractions are everywhere and they can destroy your game.”
Reach Rossi at email@example.com