Dear Dad

by Grace Jackson

Vanderbilt alumna Grace Jackson pens a letter to her dad and Vanderbilt alum, Hardie Jackson, ahead of Father's Day

Dear Dad,

I wrote, rewrote and then rewrote this letter again to you because I wanted to make sure the words that I put down on these pages encompass the significant impact you have in my life.

When I was about five years old, I remember before every soccer game I would put on my uniform and then I would go find you to help me with my long socks, cleats an, of course, my hair. I know the hair department was usually Mom’s job but for my soccer games I liked your hair style the best.

You called it “The Double Dutch Bus” and you had a song to go along with it.

Double Dutch Bus coming down the street
Looking pretty cute shuffling her feet
Double Dutch Bus coming down the street
Looking pretty funny shuffling her feet

But it wasn’t about the two cute lopsided pigtails on either side of my head for me, it was about the time before every game that I knew I would get to spend with you. You took that time before every game to make me feel supported, encouraged and loved.

I cherished those moments we talked before every game whether it was in person, through texts or over the phone from when I was five years old all the way until my last game as a senior playing college soccer.

Grace Jackson

Growing up you taught me to be tough, be strong in my faith, and do what I love. As the middle child between two boys, you taught me from a young age that I had to stand up for myself. With your guidance, you taught me to be strong and to earn the respect of others.

When it came to soccer you always told me, “nothing will be given to you, if you want it you’re going to have to go and earn it.”

In eighth grade, I remember you sat me down in the kitchen and looked me in the eyes and asked a question you had never asked me before, “Do you want to play soccer in college?”

When I responded with a simple, “yes,” you said, “OK, well then I promise to support and encourage you in this process anyway that I can.”

You never broke promises.

As a former Vanderbilt baseball player, you had a strong understanding of what it took to reach the collegiate level. However, the recruitment process was a very stressful time for me because my mind was flooded with thoughts like, “What if I’m not good enough? What if I choose the wrong school? What if I don’t find the school that is the right fit for me?”

As I continued down the sometimes-winding road of the college recruitment process you reminded me to stay strong in my faith. When faced with the decision between Vanderbilt and other schools I took your advice and turned to my faith and I was given a sign.

I chose Vanderbilt because being there gave me the feeling of all the little pieces of what I was looking for in a school and a program that fit perfectly together – and being a Vandy fan growing up was definitely a strong piece.

Looking back as a 2020 Vanderbilt graduate I am so grateful you told me to trust in my faith because doing that has given me not only the greatest memories but also the greatest teammates to share them with. I am so grateful for the amazing friendships I’ve made over these past four years at Vanderbilt.

Those in the grades above me, thank you for welcoming me into the team and for setting the standard as strong leaders.

Those in the grades below me, thank you for always pushing me to be better and of course providing comedic relief when needed.

To those in my class, thank you … thank you for holding me up when I needed someone to lean on … thank you for dog piling during times of celebration and accomplishment and most of all … thank you for standing by my side from the moment we first put on the Star V and stepped out on the field all the way till the last whistle blew.

Dad, I’ve watched you and Bill Shiverick share a friendship that started in college on the baseball team, continue when both of you moved to Atlanta and grew through raising your own families. I know similar to your friendship with Uncle Bill, these relationships that I made on the Vanderbilt women’s soccer team will go far beyond just the Vanderbilt jersey.

You have always told my brothers and I to do what we love. As I graduate college and am entering the next stage of my life, I am confident that you have prepared me.

I listened to you and have done what I love up until this point. So why stop now? You have taught me to be tough, be strong in my faith and do what I love.

Whatever I choose as my next steps I know that you will be there to support me as I navigate through this new journey.

Thank you for taking that little kid with lopsided pigtails and making her into the person I am today.

Love Always,

Mo
(Grace Jackson)

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