Kyle Jackson walked toward the Michigan men’s lacrosse team’s sideline while pressing his lacrosse stick down on his head. He didn’t talk to anybody. The senior attacker simply walked to the back of the Wolverines’ handshake line, rested his head on the butt end of his stick and waited to congratulate his opponents on their 19-13 win.
It was Jackson’s final home game for Michigan (0-4 Big Ten, 3-9 overall). But for a while, it didn’t look like Jackson would be able to play at all. The senior hadn’t seen any game action since suffering a stress fracture in his foot before the Wolverines’ March 23 game against Marist.
That all changed Saturday against No. 10 Johns Hopkins (3-1, 8-4), when Jackson made the most of his return and scored five goals on Senior Night.
“Yesterday was his first practice,” said Michigan coach John Paul. “He went a little limited on Thursday, but yesterday was really his first practice. He was completely cleared yesterday by the doctors, so we said, ‘Alright, let’s go,’ and you see what he brings to us. That’s a guy who hadn’t played lacrosse in five-and-a-half weeks.”
Though he was sidelined for a large portion of the season, Jackson accumulated some impressive statistics. After the five goals against Johns Hopkins, Jackson now has 28 on the season, which places him second all-time in the five-year history of the program.
“When we lost him, we felt it,” said senior long-stick midfielder Chase Brown. “The (defense) knew it was our time to step up. This game, the (defense) didn’t step up, and it was tough. But, from Kyle’s perspective, when he went down, he was determined to get back on the field. They told him that he would probably be out for the rest of the season, but he kept going to the trainer every day before and after the games and practices, day in and day out, to get himself better to play these last two games.
“It speaks so much about his dedication, his love for this game and his love for this team.”
That love was never more evident than on Saturday.
Jackson, one of the team’s captains, gave it his all in an effort to help his team qualify for the postseason.
As the horn blew to signal the end of the game, the team captain’s emotions overcame him.
“It (has) been a long ride with a tremendous group of guys,” Jackson said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better group of seniors to be a part of. Especially coming out here in a must-win against Johns Hopkins, for quite possibly one of our biggest wins as a program. It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t come out with a win, but I wouldn’t have wanted to spend that day with anyone else, other than the guys that I was with today.”
Though Jackson’s college career will soon be over, his leadership and perserverance have left an indelible mark on his teammates and the Michigan program.
“Kyle is one of my best friends,” Brown said. “I love that guy to death.”