The Southeastern Conference named former LSU gymnast Susan Jackson and Alabama sophomore football player Mark Ingram as its Athletes of the Year for 2009-10.
“Mark and Susan are true examples of outstanding student- athletes,” said SEC Commissioner Mike Slive in a news release. “They have competed at the highest level of collegiate athletics and through their hard work, dedication and commitment to excellence have been successful in their endeavors. They are fine representatives for their universities and this conference. The SEC is proud to honor them for their accomplishments.”
Jackson joins former basketball player Seimone Augustus as the second LSU woman to win the award.
“This is a significant award that truly puts her performance and accomplishments in very elite company,” said LSU gymnastics coach D-D Breaux in a news release. “I am extremely proud for Susan, for LSU and for our gymnastics program.”
Jackson said she felt honored to receive the prestigious award to cap off her 20-year career in gymnastics.
“There’s so many wonderful women in the SEC,” Jackson said. “To be thought of as one of the top athletes, it’s a really cool feeling. It’s really humbling.”
The Spring, Texas, native said the awards she felt she earned meant the most to her, not the awards voted on by other people.
“It’s a huge honor,” Jackson said. “But the ones that you are fighting for and trying for the most, those are the awards that mean more. You can actually see the work happening.”
Winning a national title in the all-around as a senior was one of those awards.
“That was one I knew I had to work for,” Jackson said.
Now that Jackson’s collegiate career has ended, she hopes to perform in Cirque du Soleil.
“I think it would be a good transition from 20 years of gymnastics to the real world,” Jackson said.
Jackson said she will try out for Cirque du Soleil in September, and if she is hired, she’ll go to Canada for a three-month training period. During the training period, the performers learn the ins and outs of the show along with how to put on the costume and makeup.
During the summer, Jackson works for Harris County Houston Sports Authority. She said it was a weird feeling to be wearing business clothes and working in an office after years of being physically active.
“I get so bored sitting in a desk,” Jackson said. “Sometimes I just like to get up and do a handstand.”
Jackson said she doesn’t see herself working a nine-to-five office job in the future, but there is one job she would love to have.
“I’d love to have Coach D-D’s job,” she said, laughing.
Even if she doesn’t get back into gymnastics on the coaching side, Jackson said the 20 years she put into the sport have helped her grow as a person and will help in finding future jobs.
“You definitely make so many contacts,” Jackson said. “And Coach D-D will help you out if you need a job, even though you’re off the team. She won’t stop until you have your job or what you’re looking for.”
As for the ending of her career, Jackson said going out with two national titles and a few awards was a pretty good way to go out.
“It was definitely a great ending,” Jackson said. “I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”