They say the early bird gets the worm.
And while most teenagers lament the idea of their alarm going off at 5 a.m., Jackson Sherren relishes the opportunity to get up and go to “work” as he chases his baseball dreams.
The product of Cornwall, Prince Edward Island also jokes that getting up at that time at Dawgs Academy in Okotoks is like getting up at 8 a.m. back home, and he wants to make sure he’s beating his buddies to the gym.
“No one is getting to work before me, that’s for sure,” Sherren laughed as he spoke with Alberta Dugout Stories: The Podcast.
He jumps at any chance to work out, practice, or play in games – anything really that will allow him to work on his craft, as he missed out on nearly three years of playing the game.
Despite still being in high school, Sherren has had to overcome numerous obstacles during his young career, and he remains grateful for the opportunity to still be playing.
CRACKS AND POPS
First recruited by Tyler Hollick and the Dawgs in 2018, Sherren grew up as an all-around good athlete in his hometown.
The reigning Athlete of the Year at his school, he played every sport imagineable, and thought it would be harmless to join a flag football league before he headed west.
Unfortunately, that didn’t prove to the case.
“It’s not a story I’m very proud of, that’s for sure,” Sherren said. “We were playing a game and, I mean, it’s flag football so no tackling or anything, but I get a handoff and went to deke out an opponent and just felt my knee crack and pop when I planted.”
He remembers thinking he might have popped his knee out, but when he looked down, it looked fine, which made him think it was something on the inside.
Sherren saw a doctor but, because of all the swelling around the knee, he was misdiagnosed as having torn the outer ligament of his knee, and would be out six weeks.
That time came and went with no improvement, so he went for a second opinion and found out it was much worse than originally thought.
“I eventually got an MRI and the doctor told me I tore my ACL, strained my MCL, tore my meniscus and strained my LCL (Lateral Collateral Ligament),” Sherren said. “I had to get the talk about nine months minimum before I return to sports.”
It was a tough pill to swallow for Sherren, who says he had a big summer planned in 2019 with Dawgs Academy including a trip to Vanderbilt University for a tournament.
As a 15-year-old, he felt like he was still young and would be able to bounce back quickly.
The biggest challenge he says he faced was on the physical side, as he was going to the gym six times each week for two-plus hour sessions.
“It was tough physically because, after two months, you feel one hundred per cent, you feel fine,” Sherren said. “But you know you’re still more than half a year away from being where you want to be.”
The utilityman who pitches and plays outfield had his eyes set on returning to Okotoks in February 2020, and everything was shaping up well until the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Sherren headed back home and worked on his strength and endurance with makeshift setups in his home.
“It was tough, but I also realized that it was happening to everyone,” he said. “It was a setback but I didn’t think of it that way because everyone was facing it.”
In August 2020, Sherren finally made the trek out to Okotoks to start training and get himself ready for his first season with Dawgs Academy.
With his eyes on a return to the field in the spring of 2021, Sherren hit the gym hard in hopes of making an impression with his team.
The right-hander, who bats left-handed, did exactly that in his first game back.
“I’ll never forget the day,” Sherren said. “I had already hit two home runs, both to dead-centre field, so I was seeing the ball well that day – I absolutely demolished those two baseballs.”
In his fourth at-bat, he remembers hitting one into the gap and thinking it was a sure double. However, as he turned the corner, he realized the ball was already on its way back to the infield.
“I decided not to go right away, so I slammed on the brakes, and I heard the exact same pop, crack – everything happened again,” Sherren remembered. “I went down and I knew what happened right away.”
He admits he was overwhelmed in the moment, slamming his helmet to the ground with tears in his eyes.
Unlike the first time around, Sherren admits he wasn’t in a good headspace as he began his second rehabilitation process.
“I struggled big-time,” he said. “It was definitely the lowest point in my life, for sure, as I wasn’t motivated to do anything, wasn’t eating much and wasn’t working out.
“I was basically just laying around and feeling sorry for myself and obviously questioning my baseball future.”
After a few weeks, Sherren finally started listening to teammates like Carson Hindmarsh, who assured him that feeling sorry for himself wasn’t going to help him, so he had to “control what he could control” and get himself ready for the next time he would be able to suit up with the Dawgs.
Feeling better both mentally and physically, Sherren returned to the Dawgs Academy lineup as part of a loaded 18U Black team in 2022.
After overcoming two major injuries, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound hurler made a point of soaking in every moment, fully understanding it could be taken from him again at any time.
“Even before that first game while we were playing catch, I looked around and thought, ‘Dang, I missed this,’” Sherren smiled. “My first at-bat back is when it really hit me – I’m finally back.”
The comeback story hit another high point during the summer when he threw a no-hitter.
A normally calm, laid-back guy, Sherren took the accomplishment in stride, but was left awestruck when he returned to his locker and saw a notification on his SnapChat memories.
“It was me on the surgery bed and I was like ‘wow, that was one year ago and I just finished throwing a no-hitter,’” he said. “It was insane.”
The Dawgs 18U Black team went on to win the Perfect Game 18U World Series, while the program was ranked in the top-three in all of North America.
STRONGER THAN BEFORE
With his baseball career back on track, Sherren is excited to make his dream of playing college baseball a reality, as he’s committed to Bossier Parish Community College.
Already armed with a good arsenal of pitches, he’s hoping to work on the velocity of his fastball to become a contributing member of the Cavaliers pitching staff.
Sherren also believes the heartbreak he’s gone through and resiliency he’s shown over the last few years will give him an advantage with the trials and tribulations of college ball.
In the bio of his Instagram account, Sherren has a simple quote: “perseverance overcomes anything.”
“I’m most proud of how I didn’t just come back, but I came back playing at the highest high school level possible, and playing well at a high level, for sure.”
He’s quick to give credit to the people around him like family, coaches and teammates, who helped him get to where he’s at, and he uses it as fuel for getting to the next chapter in his baseball journey.
“Every time I step on the field, I pat my chest and look up at the sky,” Sherren said. “I’m just grateful to be there every single day now, so it’s never, ‘Ugh, I have to practice.’ It’s, ‘Damn right, I’m going to practice.’”
Even if it’s at 5 a.m.