Zane and Jackson

April 2020 TeamMates of the Month: Doing Good Things in Great Ways

At the end of every weekly visit, Zane reminds his mentee Jackson to “do good things.” After a while, Jackson tacked on “in great ways.” The mantra has become their routine sign-off, as well as the outlook they both try to apply to their lives. As Zane and Jackson approach their four-year anniversary as TeamMates, they reflect on the “good things” they’ve accomplished over the years and look forward to adding more in the future.

Jackson, now a freshman at North Star High School, has previously spoken at the annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Youth Rally and at a TeamMates event at Dawes. “Zane has helped me to become involved,” says Jackson. Zane points out Jackson’s natural ability in public speaking. “I noticed his skill sets and pointed those out immediately. I told him, ‘You’ve got a really special quality about you.’” Zane recognizes Jackson probably knew it himself, but having someone else to acknowledge a talent helped boost his confidence.

Jackson also acknowledges how Zane has helped him become more assertive, although Zane recalls their impressive initial introduction. “He looked me right in the eye, stuck out his hand, firm handshake. He said ‘I’m Jackson.’ One of the most assertive things you’d ever see out of a sixth grader. I’m just like ‘Wow, this guy’s got something. He’s got some character.’”

Jackson was a little more hesitant at the beginning of their match. When he learned that TeamMates meet weekly, he was suspicious on how long someone would be able to keep that commitment. “I was like, ‘I’m going to see how long this lasts before he slowly drifts away,’ but I remember he came back, and he came back, and he came back. Our bond just grew stronger as the years progressed.”

Zane’s reliability not only helped build trust within their mentoring relationship, but also modeled an example for Jackson about consistency and fulfilling commitments. For Zane, Jackson has helped him relate to his own children and simply added a friend to his life. “Not just as a friendship, but as a brother-to-brother kind of bond,” says Jackson.

The pair recall how most of their visits in their first couple of years matched involved shooting hoops. However, as Jackson has grown and matured, they have been able to dive into some big conversation topics. In the past year or so, they have begun exploring race and culture. Jackson says they discuss their different experiences as an African American teen and as a white man. Jackson describes, “We talk about diversity and how this world could be better with race,” as well as “how you can better yourself for the future” while still being yourself. “I think we share a vision, to be the change you want to see, to instill that to my peers and to his peers,” explains Zane. “I think everybody would like to change the world…”

Jackson adds, “but you can’t do it alone.”