By: Mike Still (@mikestill94)
Feature photo: Tachinski back to pass against St. Paul’s
It was a memorable season for Vincent Massey Collegiate quarterback/point guard Jackson Tachinski, who took home provincial titles in both football and basketball in 2018-19. His athletic journey has far more mileage to go however, as the two-sport star announced his commitment this week to play both sports for the University of Manitoba in 2019-20.
“It’s going to take a while to transition obviously, because of the faster pace of the game,” he says.
“I’m expecting to make a lot of mistakes but that will help me to improve. With balancing the two sports, I’m just looking to work really hard. It’s going to be a challenge but I think I’m up for it. This is what I really want to do.”
Each of Jackson’s older siblings – twin sisters Victoria and Kennedy and the eldest Xander – come from athletic backgrounds, so it should come as no surprise that he went all in as well. Victoria is at Penn State on a track scholarship, while Xander recently completed his first year with the McMaster Marauders as a receiver.
Back in the day though, Xander was an accomplished pivot, including winning MVP in the WHSFL Division 1 ANAVETS Bowl in his senior year with St. Paul’s while also excelling in hockey and basketball.
“Being the oldest, I was always allowed to figure my way and my parents were always super encouraging of me trying out multiple sports, whether it was basketball, football, hockey or soccer,” he says.
“They always supported it and I think that led to my siblings trying out a bunch of sports and being successful at that.”
His abilities as ‘the guy’ had a clear impact on Jackson.
“Growing up [Xander] was a really good quarterback for St. Paul’s. I really looked up to him and thought I might as well try it. I like being a leader on the field and conducting everything. I also like having all the pressure on me. When the team gets blame I can take it. I think that’s really important.”
Jackson had his older brother as his coach for both flag football and basketball in middle school. While he wasn’t necessarily the star player at that time, it was his ability to take direction and work ethic that stood out.
“It was fun. He’s a great guy to coach because he’s super responsive. I guess that also comes with being his older brother. He’s going to listen to me because we know each other so well,” Xander says.
“He wasn’t the star player but he was still super hard working and very coachable. Because he built those traits as a secondary player, now he has the physical ability to be the star player and he still has those other traits. That’s what makes him such a special player.”
Jackson’s dedication to athletics continued to grow as he aged. He was rewarded in grade ten by being appointed starting quarterback for Vincent Massey’s JV football team. The squad rolled to a provincial title with Tachinski being named MVP.
“I think his JV years in terms of basketball and football, they were stepping stones,” says Xander.
“He wasn’t necessarily ‘the guy,’ but he was enough of the guy more than he was previously. He developed the hard work and the leadership and confidence enough in himself at a young age and it just allowed him to get better and better every single year.”
The following year Tachinski made Massey’s varsity team for both basketball and football. But the year ended in heartbreak as the bball team was ousted by St. Paul’s in the provincial final while the football team fell in the semi-finals.
Despite the result in both sports, Jackson was quick to bring up the lesson that was learned in defeat.
“I think every championship team needs to learn how to lose and our grade 11 season that’s exactly what happened. You need to learn how to lose so that you can take that feeling and know that you never want to feel it again.”
In the offseason and into the summer, Tachinski put his head down and simply got to work. When he wasn’t on the field or on the court training, he was in the weight room. Additionally, he was Team Manitoba’s starting quarterback for the U18 Canada Cup in July and the following month helped lead his province to an undefeated gold medal in flag football in Halifax. Right after that, he headed to Kamloops where he was Manitoba’s backup point guard for nationals.
“It was really good for me, because I dedicated a lot of time to those teams and the coaching was amazing,” he says of his provincial team experience last summer. “I improved a lot with them and got to play against really good competition with both provincial teams. I’m thankful I got to play for each.”
Tachinski’s senior year was one to remember. On the field he threw for over 1200 yards and didn’t toss a single interception en route to an undefeated regular season. The year was capped off with the team’s second victory of 2018 against powerhouse St. Paul’s in the ANAVETS Bowl. Tachinski was rewarded for his efforts as game MVP after perfectly executing the two-minute drill for the come-from-behind 28-25 win.
“When I was walking onto the field for the final drive of the game, I just didn’t want to lose at all,” the humble pivot says.
“I couldn’t even imagine losing and nothing was going to stop me or our team from losing that game. In that kind of situation, you’ve just got to keep looking at the clock and keep trying to get first downs. You can’t really worry about how many yards you’re going to get, just keep focusing on first downs and keeping your eye on the clock.”
The recognition didn’t stop there as the senior was named Division 1’s co-winner of Offensive Player of the Year along with Garden City pivot and fellow Bison commit Jarrett Alcaraz. But like the leader that he is, Tachinski preferred to take the attention off of him and focus on the team as a whole.
“I don’t really care too much about winning awards,” he says after a quick pause.
“The very first game of the season against Oak Park I threw three touchdowns and 200 yards or so. I didn’t really know what to expect from our team and myself but we played a really good game. After the game I was really excited because I saw the path our team was going towards and I just wanted to work hard and be a part of it and hopefully we had a championship-winning season ahead of us. We did and it was really fun.”
On the basketball court, Tachinski also turned into a game-changer, providing 20 points per game for a club that already had a massive impact inside with long-time friend and multi-sport teammate Kyler Filewich along with fellow big Donald Stewart. He was also named a provincial tournament all-star when all was said and done.
“I think I just got a lot better skill-wise,” he says.
“I became a much better shooter and got much more confident, and sports is all about confidence in my opinion. When you have that confidence you can do better things. I think that’s what really kicked in for me.”
Now, Tachinski sets his sights on the post-secondary experience. He has his siblings to use as resources, however Xander isn’t worried about the moment being too big for the younger bro.
“As a family, we don’t look for pressures or limitations. We just look for opportunities. We’ve talked university sports because of my experience and the time commitment and stuff like that, so I think he has a pretty good idea of what it’s like.
I think he’s able to put it together pretty well just based on what he sees in his older siblings. In terms of pressure and being a university athlete, I don’t think he thinks about that at all. I think he focuses on being a good teammate and doing whatever it takes for his team to win.”