SCHERTZ – This past fall, Jackson Macias turned down a previous commitment to Harvard University for a chance to join the Air Force Academy.
His reasoning was pretty simple.
“My dad went there, my sister just graduated this year, and that’s just something I’ve had my heart set on since I was pretty young.”
The recent Clemens graduate is ready to take the next step in his athletic career after making his mark all across campus as a dynamic three-sport athlete in football, wrestling and soccer. This past year, as a punter/linebacker hybrid on the football team, Macias scored an incredible fake-punt touchdown in a win over East Central and helped power the Buffaloes to their first District 26-6A title in 13 years. Four months later, Macias was on his way to the Berry Center in Cypress, representing Clemens at the UIL State Wrestling Tournament for the third straight year. And while he was working hard on the mats, Macias also owned the pitch, anchoring the soccer team’s staunch defense as the Buffs cruised to an impressive 18-1-1 overall record.
Being recognized as an All-State calibre athlete is an impressive statement in and of itself. At the end of the 2019-2020 school year, Macias had earned that recognition in all three sports. Balancing the commitments necessary to consistently compete at such a high level was undoubtedly a challenge, but it also turned out to be perfect preparation for the regimented schedule Macias will face at the Academy.
“Time management is tough, but it’s something I’ve learned," Macias explained. "I’ve been lucky enough to have two older sisters and see how they’ve done what they’re doing. I’ve had great examples from them, but it was definitely a learning curve at first, coming into high school with the harder classes and everything. Once you catch onto it, you get into a rhythm and I’m very much a uniform person. They definitely feed into each other, that’s for sure. I try to take something out of one of them and put it into the other. Although they’re all very different, they’re still connected in what they do. Neither of the other two get me as fit as I need to be for soccer, but I do my best.”
The accolades are certainly impressive, but the Clemens standout’s senior season also proved to be one of the most challenging. While football commands his attention in the fall and requires bulking up with weight training, Macias has had to transition out of football and into both the wrestling and soccer seasons at virtually the same time. Both sports necessitate a quick slim-down from his football playing weight.
“At my biggest, during football season, I was around 215-220 [pounds], and my wrestling weight is under 182," Macias said. “Cutting weight is tough. It’s doable because you naturally eat less, and you’re able to cut down on your diet focus on what you need to focus on. And then soccer just slims me down. Once I get fully into soccer, it’s usually easier for me to keep my weight for wrestling. When I do keep track of my diet, I’ll very easily fluctuate from 175 to 180. I just got lucky with the coaches here. If I didn’t have them, I probably wouldn’t be able to do it.”
Unfortunately, while Macias was able to see his hard work and dedication pay off in both football and wrestling, he was not as fortunate during the high school soccer season, which was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic. The disappointment from that unfinished season remains evident in spite of the Buffaloes’ practically unblemished record, but Macias has pressed onward and found other means to stay in shape and stay prepared while the majority of facilities remained closed.
“I’ve just gotten very lucky," Macias said. "My dad has played at the Air Force Academy and at the Division I level. His teams were in the tournament, so he knows what it takes to perform at that level and he’s been one of my coaches for my entire life. I’ve been lucky to have resources outside of just myself and my own thoughts about it.”
Moving forward, Macias has trimmed down his responsibilities and will only be focusing on soccer at the Academy. But even with unwavering support from his family and a tireless work ethic, does he feel prepared to accept the Air Force’s challenge?
“I sure hope so. I hear what my sister tells me to be ready for, and although you can never be fully prepared for what the Air Force Academy is like, I think I’ll be more prepared than most. The school is going to be hard, the training is going to be hard, but I’m mostly looking forward to the soccer part of it. It’ll be my first time not doing three sports at once. Whether I make the travel team or the 21-squad, that’s not really what I’m looking for. I’m just looking forward to being able to compete and see where I’m at.
Most importantly though, I’ve got to enjoy this as it is now because it’s going to change pretty quickly. It’s tough because there’s no coming back home whenever you’re there. There’s no weekends to come visit, so I’m mostly getting prepared for the change in lifestyle from being a dependent person to being extremely independent.”