At age 5, Jackson Brass seemed drawn to the family vacuum cleaner. Like something out of a Jason Bourne movie, Brass methodically took apart the vacuum. He studied each piece, how it worked and how it fit together. Then he reassembled it. “I’ve always been pretty mechanical—I liked anything with moving parts,” he says, now a Sierra Canyon senior and lacrosse standout.
Brass would do this, too, with his PlayStation, mostly to clean it. He would disassemble and reassemble his paintball gun. Eventually he moved to Lego Mindstorm kits in which one can control and code mini robots. He joined a middle school robotics team and eventually developed a passion for cars. “I’m a bit of a car enthusiast,” he says. “In a perfect world, I want to work in the automotive industry.”
Just like with the family vacuum, Brass has an uncanny ability to pick apart opposing defenses on the lacrosse field. He earned a lacrosse scholarship to the Illinois Institute of Technology, where he plans to major in Mechanical Engineering.
Brass’ drive made him an ideal fit for Sierra Canyon’s #StudentFirst award that recognizes excellence in and out of the classroom. “Jackson is everything you hope for as a player,” Sierra Canyon Lacrosse coach Mario Waibel says. “He leads from the front. He does that in the classroom, and he does it on the field, on the sidelines, at practice. He has a great work ethic and a calm demeanor, and he is willing to roll up his sleeves and do whatever it takes. He’s a dream to coach.”
Brass has demonstrated high motor skills in maintaining a 3.52 grade point average, thriving in courses like AP U.S. History, Honors English 4, Filmmaking, and Economics Financial Literacy.
In fact, Brass said he audited a second economics class during his free period. “I want to see how money works and how it can work for me.”
Brass also has firsthand real-world experience. His mother Ronda Jackson owns two businesses—Decor Interior Design, Inc., and the StudioD paint store. “I’ve put in a good number of hours at both places.” Brass made several short films in his Filmmaking class and even submitted one short to the All-American Film Festival. He also joined the Young Ambassador Leadership Academy (YALA), a mentoring program that set up an influential field trip to UCLA.
“YALA connected me to different paths. That field trip to UCLA is where I first dove into mechanical engineering. That is where they first created WiFi.”
Brass says his interest in cars was piqued during trips to the L.A. Auto Show at the Los Angeles Convention Center. His uncle works as an electrical engineer for Ford, and his older brother Reginald Steven Brass is also a “car geek.” He has interest in working on project cars, rebuilding old cars, and improving their performance. He’s intrigued by the Japanese Domestic Market featuring 1990s cars from Japan and other cars from Europe, like BMW and Porsche.
His target car: the R34 Nissan Skyline.
“I eventually want to go into the manufacturing or design aspects of cars,” Brass says. “If I am on the aerodynamic team, or the brakes team, or making components, that would be great.
“My dream job would be a Formula One engineer— that would be awesome.” His lock screen: cars naturally. He also enjoys car movies like Fast and the Furious, The Italian Job, and Baby Driver.
“Well, the first three movies of Fast and Furious, when it was still about cars,” Brass says, laughing. “Even my lock screen on my phone is cars.”
Brass, at 5’10”, 150 pounds, can take it up a gear on the lacrosse field, too. He did not take up lacrosse until his freshman year. Waibel said he left a lasting impression on him during their first practice. “He had never played before, but he had such a quick first step that two guys fell defending him,” Waibel says. “I had never seen anyone move like that. His footwork was off the charts. I told him if he trusted me and if we worked together, he could reach the next level. It was the start of a serendipitous relationship.”
Brass usually is the offensive catalyst, playing as attacker or an attacking midfielder. In fact, Illinois Tech sees him as more of an offensive weapon, something usually reserved for the generational East Coast lacrosse college players. “I’m kind of a Swiss Army knife. I can be an attacker or a middy,” Brass says.
He seemed to hit the throttle in last year’s season opener against traditionally tough Oaks Christian, recording five goals and an assist. “I had told him before that game that this was his time,” Waibel says. “Jackson stepped out in that game and said this was going to be his season. Then it got canceled.” He has helped Sierra Canyon to a 3-3 record against stiff competition, including a 16-3 throttling of Crescenta Valley on Thursday. Sierra Canyon opened the season with wins over St. Francis and Oak Park and losses against traditional powers Crespi, Loyola, and Mater Dei. Waibel said Brass shined in particular against Mater Dei.
“He was on fire against Mater Dei. It’s not just one thing he does. It’s kind of everything. All the intangibles between the boxes, clearing the middle of the field. There’s no highlight reel for this guy, he’s all grit. He makes everything else happen. He’s the fastest kid, he’s the calmest kid, and he’s a leader.”
Brass said he has tried to embrace his leadership role for Sierra Canyon and said he received sage advice from his father Reginald, Sr. “He said 85 percent of people are followers, so when you have a couple of people stepping up to lead, the rest will follow. It was just a matter of speaking up. I think our team has been making some statements for sure this year. We’re competing against tough teams, and we want to be a top-10 team in the state.”
Waibel said Brass has superstar talent but a humble approach that garners respect from his teammates. “We had some building and maintenance work in our back rink, and he helped build the scorekeepers’ table and do some other things with us. And the thing about him is he is the first person to pick up the balls. And he always does it with a smile on his face.”
to watch Jackson Brass’ #StudentFirst video.