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'A goofy, unique soul': Friends, family remember former Westlake football player killed in crash

Sarah Asch
Austin American-Statesman
Former Westlake football player Jackson Coker died on March 10 in a car crash on Bee Caves Road. Westlake Football Coach Todd Dodge called him the “absolute heart and soul” of the 2019 championship team.

Ryan Lindley first met Jackson Coker when he moved to Westlake at the end of his sophomore year of high school. He said he noticed right away that out of all the members of the football team, Coker stood out as a leader. 

“I was more impressed with what he did off the field. He was intentional. He did so many things for other people and it didn’t even matter if he knew them or not,” Lindley said. “That was just the way he was, he didn’t have to think about things like that.” 

Lindley and Coker were both members of the 2019 championship football team and the Westlake class of 2020. This spring the two were roommates in The Callaway House near the University of Texas, with Coker attending his classes at Columbia remotely and Lindley doing the same for his classes at Yale. 

Past coverage:Former Westlake High football player killed in crash

When Coker died in a car crash on Bee Caves Road around 6 a.m. on March 10, he was on his way to work out as part of his daily routine, which included time at the gym, class, meals with friends and often a movie night. 

Coker is survived by his two older brothers, Jake and Jared, and his parents, Jon and Laura. Jake Coker said that out of all three siblings, Jackson was the extrovert. He loved music and played the piano. He used to listen to Frank Sinatra before football games and his favorite pre-game pump up song was “Fly Me to the Moon,” his brother said. 

“He wasn’t a square kind of kid,” Jake Coker said of his youngest brother. “He was a goofy, unique soul.”

Jackson Coker of Westlake holds up the state championship trophy after the Chaparrals won the 2019 Class 6A DII title in 2019 at AT&T Stadium

Jake Coker remembers playing tackle football in the backyard when Jackson was in elementary school.

“Jared and I would always beat up on him, as the youngest kid,” he said. “There would be a lot of times after that where we’d lay in the grass as the sun was going down and just talk about life and his goals and where he wanted to be.” 

Coker loved New York when he was younger; he used to dream of being an actor on Broadway. Jake Coker said he found it fitting that his brother was recruited to play football for New York City-based Columbia, although by that point his passions had shifted and he was on a pre-law track. 

Jake Coker said that his brother loved watching high school and college football almost as much as he loved playing the sport himself. 

Westlake wide receiver Jackson Coker exits the bus wearing his gold medal for a trophy presentation after the Westlake Parade of Champions on Jan. 26, celebrating the Chaps' state football championship. The state title helped Westlake finish as the 2020 Breazeale Cup runner-up.

“He loved his teammates more than anything. That was the number one thing,” he said. “He loved the grind. You get that in a lot of sports but especially in football it reveals so much about someone’s character and Jack loved that. There was no hiding on the football field. It was raw.”

Westlake Football Coach Todd Dodge called Jackson the “absolute heart and soul” of the 2019 championship team.

“We are all just devastated over this tragedy and our hearts go out to the Coker family,” Dodge said in a statement released by the school district on the day of the crash. “As we are all reflecting on Jackson’s time with us, we unanimously agree that if you were to choose a Mr. Chaparral, it would be #16, Jackson Coker. May you rest in peace, our friend and teammate. We know you are in heaven and will always be with us.”

Jake Coker said that among many things, one of Jackson’s legacies will be his selflessness.  

“The one thing I would say is that Jack understood that he wasn’t here for himself. He was here for his friends, his family and the community. He was here for us,” he said. “That's the way he lived his life and that is how he’s going to be remembered.” 

A funeral service is planned for Sunday, March 21 at 6:30 p.m. at Riverbend Church followed by a gathering at the high school football field around 8:30 p.m.