Jordan Boyd | Sports Editor

Junior and starting varsity soccer player Jackson Neal has a passion for far more than kicking balls at the school’s soccer complex on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. The early college student enjoys playing guitar, a self-taught hobby, in his free time.

  “I just thought it would be a pretty cool hobby,” Jackson Neal said. “It is not something that everybody does.”IMG_0409

 Though guitar playing is not something that a lot of soccer-playing high schoolers find joy in doing, Neal and his best friend, Cam Line ‘19, bond through playing guitar.

  “Not a lot of guys have playing guitar in common with their friends, so when Cam and I hang out, we just like to play sometimes and relax,” Neal said.

  Neal currently plays guitar as a stress reliever or a break from doing homework throughout the week. Having an extra hobby to do on the side is something to look forward to when he is caught up in daily life..

  “When I am having a lot of stress with school and soccer and just need a minute to myself to think, I like to play guitar,” Neal said.

  Playing guitar is not just a current hobby; not only did Neal start playing at only eight years old he also plans on continuing to play guitar for the rest of his life.

  “I don’t think I’ll ever stop doing it,” Neal said. “I don’t exactly have much free time, but when I get the chance I’ll play. Even when soccer stops I’ll still have my guitar.”

  Neal finds that he has bettered himself through having both an athletic side and an artistic side; soccer and guitar have led him to be more balanced in regular life and in the activities themselves.

  “I learned to have a balance of focus and emotion by playing soccer and guitar,” Neal said. “Soccer helps me focus while guitar helps me do the opposite; it helps me relieve stress.”

   Neal was not professionally taught how to play guitar and learned the craft by listening to guitar playing in songs and researching on the internet.

  “I never went to guitar lessons or anything like that,” Neal said about his self-teaching measures. “I just have a good ear I guess. I always listened to a lot of music and could just hear the tunes and notes in my head.”

  It was not until Neal did more research and garnered some knowledge about guitar that he chose to do it more often.

   IMG_0404 “Once I really got interested, I started doing some research on the internet and I just got better from there,” Neal said.

  Neal appreciates having learned how to play the guitar as he reaps its benefits day in and day out. The guitarist sees the hobby’s impacts on his life and mind set every day.

  “I always notice how much more relaxed I am when I am able to play some guitar to help get me through a tough week,” Neal said. “Sports and school work can be really stressful but playing guitar helps give me an occasional escape.”