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October 26, 2023

Equipping for success

Cusano heart for others shines through as team manager
Wendy Le
Coppell High School senior Jackson Cusano rushes to get back to Buddy Echols Field for halftime at the Coppell football game against Plano East on Oct. 13. Cusano fills the role of team manager with kindness and attention to support the team.

There are merely 10 minutes standing between the Coppell football team and kickoff. On the sideline is senior manager Jackson Cusano. 

While he jumps hyping up his teammates, his heart is palpitating. Are the screws tightened correctly? Are all the players padded up?

Being a manager in any sport, especially as a student, may seem easy with its fair share of perks. But it is not like that. When Cusano had the honor of taking up the position of team manager for the Cowboys, he grasped it and never looked back. 

“It is definitely tough work,” Cusano said. “I have so much responsibility. If someone’s helmet pops off it’s my fault because I didn’t tighten it enough. But, I’m blessed to have the team and the coaches I have, helping me and allowing me to work with them.”

Coppell High School senior Jackson Cusano rushes to distribute snacks for the football team prior to halftime against Plano East at Buddy Echols Field on Oct. 13. Cusano fills the role of team manager with kindness and attention to support the team. (Wendy Le)

Cusano’s football story, however, started long before this position. 

Back in third grade, Cusano started playing football for his dad, Mark Cusano. Mr. Cusano was a starting linebacker at USC and football meant the world to him. Jackson, however, kept his true feelings secret, never enjoying the sport. His only motivation to keep playing football was to use it as a way to connect with his dad. 

“My personality isn’t the hard-hitting strong guy,” Jackson said. “I was more there for the boys, the experience and behind the scenes jobs than the actual gameplay.”

Jackson always had a colorful and caring personality. CHS Principal Laura Springer met Jackson when she was principal at Coppell Middle School East.

“He is just so kind to everyone, hard working, loyal, dependable and conscientious,” Springer said. “I am so blessed to have him around. He’s been in my life so long that he’s a shadow of me.”

Throughout middle school and his first two years of high school, Cusano pushed through his dislike for the game and continued to play football.

As the 2021-22 school year came to an end, Jackson finally found the strength to disclose to his father his choice to part ways with playing football.

“I was really worried that this would break our bond,” Jackson said. “Although I knew he was disheartened, he was very accepting of the fact and let me know that as long as I’m happy he’s happy.”

At this point in time, Jackson still didn’t know what was going to happen regarding his years of being a part of a football team.

“When he told me he was quitting football, I was definitely very disappointed,” Mr. Cusano said. “At the time I didn’t know what was going to happen to him regarding football.”

Coppell High School senior Jackson Cusano rushes to get back to Buddy Echols Field for halftime at the Coppell football game against Plano East on Oct. 13. Cusano fills the role of team manager with kindness and attention to support the team. (Wendy Le)

While everyone thought that he wouldn’t be a part of the football program anymore, Coppell coach Antonio Wiley had other plans.

“I saw that his care for football was not as much as his care for the students on this team,” Wiley said. “He sees his teammates as more than just athletes, he sees them as brothers. He sees the human side of them.”

Wiley also saw that he had a passion for education and service.

“He’s willing to go out of his way to help others despite any difficulty it may cause him,” Wiley said. “Being an educator is tough work. There will be scenarios when you have to make hard decisions and being the manager of a football team is the best thing that I believe could happen for Jackson.”

Wiley had the perfect roster spot for Jackson. 

“He came to me one afternoon and told me that he loved what he saw leadership wise,” Jackson said. “He then offered me a spot on the team as a manager.”

Jackson was ecstatic to find out that he would be able to give back to the team and the field in a different aspect: helping his brothers and teammates. 

“He helps us as much as he can,” junior quarterback Edward Griffin said. “He builds the locker room and brings energy when we are tired or when we need it.”

Utilizing his skills and versatility as team manager, Jackson sees himself pursuing a future in education with Springer as his role model. Joining Texas Association of Future Educators (TAFE) his first year of high school, Jackson decided that being an educator was definitely the path for him.  

“Looking back to when I was young, I always loved to help people out,” Jackson said. “I would go out of my way to ensure that everyone was getting the help they needed. This is what led me to my further aspiration to become an educator.”

Jackson realized that his connection to people and his strive for education is his true calling, something he will pursue indefinitely. 

“Always follow your dreams and your passion,” Jackson said. “Don’t let anything or anyone decide who you are or your future ahead of you.”

Follow Namir Awan (@namir_awan) and @CHSCampusNews on X.

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About the Contributors
Namir Awan, Staff Photographer
Namir is a junior and a 2nd year staff photographer for The Sidekick. Namir has a younger sister who is a freshman. Namir loves to watch and play basketball and football. He's a wide receiver in football and a guard in basketball. Namir loves sports because he loves playing with friends and enjoys being outside. Namir enjoys learning about history because he likes learning about the past. He also enjoys talking and helping others. Namir does fundraisers to help those in need and is always looking out for those around him. He also loves to play video games with his friends; his favorite game is Rocket League, which allows him to destress after a long week. Namir enjoys traveling with his family; his favorite place he's ever been to is Italy. He visited Rome, The Vatican, Pompei, and Naples in Italy. He's studying whenever Namir isn't helping people, playing sports, or playing video games. He is currently taking AP US History, AP Environmental Sciences, AP English Language and Composition, AP Chemistry, and AP Pre Calculus. Namir loves to listen to music when he studies. He loves to listen to R&B, Pop, and Rap. Namir also loves to cook with his family; his favorite dish is burgers. Namir also works at Kumon; he enjoys working there because he enjoys helping kids learn math and reading. As Namir settles back into school he is excited for this upcoming year as he goes into his second year of being on The Sidekick. 
Wendy Le, Podcast Producer
Wendy Le is a junior and the podcast producer of The Sidekick. Through The Sidekick, she found her passion in photography and podcasting. In her free time, she enjoys scrolling through Pinterest, capturing mundane moments on camera and spending time with her friends and family.  Born in Hanoi, Vietnam, she moved to the United States as an 8-year-old. Le’s childhood consisted of traveling around the world, more specifically, different parts of Asia. Constantly on the move, she finally settled down in Coppell, TX in the seventh grade, where she met some of her closest friends. When feeling burnt out, Le recharges her social battery by sitting in her bed and relaxing throughout the day. Listening to Lana Del Ray, specifically her Lust for Life album, helps bring a sense of peacefulness to her day. You can contact her at [email protected].

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