HomeOpinionOPINION: JCM students, players, community deserve answers from JMCSS

OPINION: JCM students, players, community deserve answers from JMCSS

By James Davis

Guest columnist

In 2015, JCM alumni came together as the school district’s Vision 2020 plan threatened closure of their alma mater. There was protesting outside of the board of education, a march, a petition, and many, many meetings in an effort to “Rebuild or Renovate JCM.”

Despite the efforts, the school board voted to close JCM.

Fast forward to 2021 when JCM got a second chance and re-opened its doors.

Many athletic, academic, and arts programs are back in place, and more are coming…hopefully. The Cougar Football team’s return was one of the most anticipated. The 2023 homecoming game was probably the highest attended sports event in Jackson all year, maybe many years. Although the Cougars have been playing as a team since the school reopened, this past season was their first in official varsity play.

Building a football program from scratch is a heavy mission. Rebuilding a program with such a rich history takes time. But, at the bare minimum, it also takes a full coaching staff, access to adequate training and practice facilities, full funding, and a chance to have home field advantage at least a couple of times a season. Technically, JCM has never had a home field. In the years JCM was opened, 1971-2016, Rothrock Stadium (now Lane Field) on Hays Avenue was the home field for the Cougars. The stadium was shared with Lane College and junior high schools as well as North Side and South Side until their own stadiums were built in the 1970s. Although separate from the school, JCM managed to make Rothrock home for decades.

Upon its reopening, JCM continued to use Oman Arena for training and the field behind the school’s West Campus for practice as it had before closure. Yet, using Lane Field was not a consistent option for JCM home games anymore. For the 2023-2024 football season, JCM played home games at Liberty Tech High, North Side High, and South Side High. The Cougars spent the entire season playing “home” games on some of their biggest rivals’ fields. That season’s homecoming game was played at South Side against North Side. A sign was held up by the fans of JCM’s opponent stating, “How can you have a homecoming without a home?”


With Oman Arena renovations forthcoming, Cougar Football training facilities moved to the old band room on what was JCM’s East Campus. The team traveled by bus together from the facilities to the field for practice throughout the 2023-2024 season. On November 15, 2023, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for the new Hub City Central to include renovations of Oman Arena and construction of a new stadium with a regulation track. Construction began the same day, and both the practice field and track were quickly demolished. In the meantime, the plan was to update the field behind JCM’s Field House so it could be used as the practice football field.

However, drive south on Highland and turn left on Lane Avenue to see a panoramic view of an Olympic pool-sized muddy hole where the practice field and track used to be. And it has looked just like that since mid-January. Keep driving east down Lane Avenue, past JCM, and turn right on Railroad Street. After you pass JCM’s Field House, look at the area that is intended to be Cougar Football’s practice field. No work has taken place there to prepare that space for student athletes. A water source has not been put in. Sod has not been put down. A muddy trench players will have to step over to get to the field has not been filled in. It is an inadequate location for practice for any team.

The stadium at Hub City Central will be considered JCM’s home field. However, the plans do not show signs that this is the home of the Cougars. There will not be a cougar head in the middle of the field. JCM will not be painted in the end zones. There might be a sign as you enter the stadium that welcomes you to Cougar Country. That’s it. Why? The stadium does not belong to JCM. It belongs to the wider Jackson community. The name is Hub City Central.

During the Vision 2020 discussions, school board member, Dr. Joe Mays, said JCM has always gotten the brunt of the change in the school system. This happened during consolidation, when the schools split again to form Madison Academic, when Vision 2020 closed the school, and when JCM re-opened, and school had to be held in Oman Arena for nine weeks because building renovations were not complete. Think of all the JCM students through the years who have had to carry those loads of change.

And now the JCM football team is bearing the brunt of change as they go into their fourth year of uncertainties. Where will the team practice? Where will they play “home” games? Why was there not a plan in place for dealing with winter weather and the water that has been sitting on the site of the new stadium for two months? When will construction on the stadium resume? If it does get completed, will JCM always have priority access to the stadium as other JMCSS high schools have to their stadiums? Is there adequate funding to complete the stadium? How does the program recruit great coaches, motivate student athletes, and implement a successful season when these questions have not been answered or even addressed?

The players who will graduate in 2025 will have spent four years helping to rebuild the beloved JCM football program. But they will also have spent four years without ever having played a true home game. JCM supporters, do not think that advocating for JCM can stop since the school is re-opened. The work is not done.

JCM students deserve the experiences and opportunities that other students in our community have. It is past time for leaders in this community to stop implementing unsuccessful strategies and making ineffective plans that ultimately negatively impact JCM students. The work of rebuilding and renovating JCM does not end with completion of its building and it cannot be done solely by the school’s staff and students. Ask the questions of those in leadership in our community until there are answers. Push to ensure JCM is a priority. Do not allow history to repeat itself. Let part of JCM’s rebuilding and renovation process include better decisions by community leaders. Decisions that do not require more JCM students to bear the brunt of one more change in our community.

Please. Enough.

James Davis is a concerned citizen and member of the Jackson Central-Merry community. The Jackson Post’s opinion/editorial page is meant to help launch public discussion of local issues or allow local people to discuss national or statewide issues. Publication of a column is not an endorsement of that column by The Post, its owners or any of its advertisers or employees. To join the discussion, send a guest column or letter to the editor to brandon@jacksonpost.news. Submissions for a specific week’s print edition need to be sent by Monday night. Sending does not guarantee publication that week as that is based on space availability.



  1. why didnt they dig a trench to the lower end of the property so it will drain off. Or havent they heard of pumps to pump the water out. It looks like it was built to hold water for whatever reason.

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