JACKSON LIBERTY: An emotional offseason for the Lions

JACKSON LIBERTY: An emotional offseason for the Lions

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JACKSON LIBERTY: An emotional offseason for the Lions

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It was an emotional offseason for Jackson Liberty.

Head coach, Tim Osborn, who founded the program in 2006 at the sub-varsity level in 2006 and guided the Lions since their inception, died April 13 at the age of 53 while exercising at a Brick fitness facility.

“I would have to say the mood of the team has gotten a lot better over time,” coach Jim Sharples said. “It was obviously tragic when it happened, but the kids are resilient, probably more than the professionals and teachers in the building. Our kids have rebounded pretty well, better than I anticipated.

“Not seeing Tim (who also was the school’s athletic coordinator) around is hard to get used to. He was always here at five and six in the morning.”

Sharples said the Lions will wear Osborn’s initials on their helmets throughout the season.

“Our kids are wearing rubber bands on their wrists that say, ‘In loving memory of Timothy Osborn,’ ” Sharples said. “Our booster club had rubber bands made up. They have his name underneath. On the surface, it says, ‘Run it again,’ something Tim was known to say a lot, especially during three-hour practices. Our kids got into a habit of joking about that. The slogan is also on their wristbands.”

Sharples had been an assistant coach at Jackson Liberty since 2006. He was the Lions’ defensive coordinator the last two seasons, including 2012 when the Lions went 6-4 for their initial winning campaign in school history. The Lions qualified for the playoffs for the first time in school history.

“Tim started something here and I want to continue what he started,” Sharples said. “He is a big part of what we are. I have been coaching for 20 years overall. I applied for a couple of head jobs over the years. I always wanted to be a head coach, but not under these circumstances. I love it. I can’t wait to get in here at seven in the morning to start working on the team.”

Among the assistant coaches are Matt Osborn, Tim Osborn’s son, and Joe Osborn, Tim’s brother.

“Matt spoke at Tim’s funeral and it’s nice to have them around,” Sharples said. “We openly talk about Tim. It’s not a bad thing to tell a story about Tim. The name coach Osborn sounds like it belongs here.”

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