3/15/2018 11:19:00 AM JHS graduate promoted by U.S. Naval Academy athletic department
Former Jackson resident Jim Berry (center), who has been named an Associate Athletic Director at the U.S. Naval Academy, is flanked by his proud parents, former Jackson residents Jan Berry (left) and Dick Berry (right). They are pictured in the Navy football stadium at Annapolis, MD.
Teenager Jim Berry's interest in athletic training as a Jackson High School student in the mid-1990s played a role in leading him to an important position he now holds at the U.S. Naval Academy.
Berry, a 1996 graduate of Jackson High School, was recently named as a new associate athletic director at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, where he has been employed the past 14 years.
Some Jackson area residents may remember Jim as the younger son of former Jackson residents Dick and Jan Berry. Dick Berry served as Jackson High School's band director from 1998 to 2005, and built the Marching Ironmen into one of the largest and most impressive bands in this part of the state.
In Jim's new position at the academy, he will oversee a staff of 16 and serve as the head athletic trainer for the football team while working closely with all the team physicians. More broadly, he will help coordinate the health and wellness for the academy's 1,100 athletes who participate in 33 different sports.
Berry, 40, has spent his entire professional career at the Naval Academy. He has been employed there since 2004 and enjoys being part of a culture where a high level of excellence in both academics and athletics is demanded.
"We have a great bunch of kids who have to perform at a high level," Berry commented. "This is the right position for me right now. It's a higher calling to help these kids get through."
As part of the Navy entourage, Berry has been to the White House several times after the Navy football team won the Commander-in-Chief's trophy for beating the other service academy teams. He has met both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama.
On a personal level, he met his wife, Casey, at the academy and they have been married for almost three years. There's plenty of shop talk between them as she serves as an athletic trainer at a nearby high school.
Berry got his first taste of athletic training at Jackson High School when he served as a student trainer his junior and senior years. Ohio University graduate assistant Mark Borror was assigned to JHS at that time and he allowed young Berry to shadow him during this work.
This provided Berry with some practical experience and a basic foundation of athletic-training knowledge, which included everything from learning how to tape ankles to lessons in basic anatomy.
Berry thought seriously about enrolling in Ohio University, but Dick, who has a deep allegiance to Ohio State University, made some contacts regarding the athletic training program and Jim wound up in Columbus rather than Athens.
As it turned out, his experience was very positive and his desire to make athletic training his career was cemented. He graduated from Ohio State University in 2001 with a history degree, but was schooled as an athletic trainer while getting hands-on experience with the football team.
Berry then served a one-year internship with the Cleveland Browns when Butch Davis was the head coach. He then enrolled at Kent State University and earned a master's degree in sports and recreational management in 2004. Soon after, he landed a job at the Naval Academy.
Berry remembers his coming-of-age years in Jackson very fondly - not just for the initial exposure to athletic training, but for the total life experience in both the school and community, learning life lessons and values which will remain with him for life.
"I have to thank the people of Jackson for making me who I am," Berry volunteered. "Without them, I wouldn't be where I am or who I am."
From their retirement home in Columbus, proud parents Dick Berry and Jan Berry also attribute part of Jim's success to his upbringing in Jackson and the positive influences and examples which helped mold him. "Jackson is very special to us," Mr. Berry stated.
Dick Berry retired in 2005, not because he was ready, but because of a serious and life-threatening heart condition, which has required a great deal of medical attention. However, he and Jan are doing well these days and live just 20 minutes from the Ross Heart Hospital where he has received treatments and care. His older son, Ed, who was once a band director himself in Northern Ohio, is now doing well in the farming business.
Mr. Berry is very proud of the continuing excellence of the Jackson High School Band program and is very impressed with what Director of Bands Aaron Rex has and is accomplishing.