Jason Cauley is a familiar face around Maclay, often found on the football field sidelines as the Maclay upper school Head Coach, or in a classroom teaching his students American and world history.
The things most people on campus know him for are his dedication to the Maclay varsity football team, his funny and open personality in the classroom or maybe his love for family, music and the band Deftones. However, what some may not know about Coach Cauley is that he served in the military for about half a decade.
“The events of 9/11 led me to get into the military,” Cauley said. “I wasn’t doing much with my life at the time. I had gotten done playing college football and I just started, you know, bartending, waiting tables and taking one or two classes of school, but really not doing much.”
When he was about 24 years old, Cauley made the decision to enlist in the military. The branch he joined was The United States Army.
“I was living with some friends and I remember it was September 11 when my dad called me and he’s like, ‘Hey son, you need to turn on the TV,’ and I turned it on, and of course, I wasn’t amazed looking at it right then,” Cauley said. “But it just had that effect of, wow, I’ve never thought America would be one of the countries where someone comes in and attacks us. And I guess weeks after that, learning of what was going to happen or what may happen and us going to war, it really put, I don’t know, something on me where, man, I’m not really doing much with my life right now.”
Cauley was inspired and he had the drive to do something important. He wanted to do an honorable thing for the good of the country.
“I was like, there’s going to be people that have kids and they have wives and husbands that are going off to another country fighting and I’m going to be doing nothing for the country,” Cauley said. “So I was like, you know what, let’s do it.”
Cauley had narrowed it down to two branches, the Army and the Navy, eventually deciding that the Army was a better fit for him, after talking to his uncle who was a former Green Beret during the Vietnam War.
“Some people are dead set and know what they wanted to do,” Cauley said. “At this time in my life, I knew I could make drinks and throw a football. That’s all I knew. So I was like, you know, I want to go fight.”
Cauley enjoyed his time both training and serving in the military. He has fond memories of the time he spent in the Army, where he was the gunner on the platoon sergeant’s truck.
“[My favorite memory from the Army] it is the bond with the guys, because you know the guy to your left and your right when you expect, I was Combative Arms, so you know what you’re going into,” Cauley said.
When asked what advice he would give to those who are considering joining the military, Cauley has this to say.
“Do your research on it,” Cauley said. “Different branches have different jobs, and that was another thing for me when I was looking at the Army. The Army had like 175 jobs and the Navy may have had like 80 jobs and the Air Force may have had this many jobs. And I was like, ‘Man, they have so many different options in the Army.’”
Cauley also often brings his military background to the classroom, where he will sometimes share stories and memories of the military with his students.
“[My favorite thing about Coach Cauley is] that he doesn’t really care what he says in class, he will make fun of his football players,” sophomore Peyton Price said. “He’s just comfortable around us.”
Now, after medically retiring from the Army in 2007, Cauley spends his days coaching football and teaching history at Maclay.
“[Something I want to learn from Coach Cauley is] probably just more about ancient history,” Price said. “Just like, what’s happened and [how it has] affected the present right now.”
He works with football players of all grades and teaches both world history to sophomores and US history to juniors.
“It wasn’t until probably I joined the military that I got really interested in history,” Cauley said. “Of course, my first interest was military history. That is still the one I like the most. But then, when you start teaching, you start to learn more things that you’re like, ‘Man, I didn’t learn this in high school, this is pretty interesting,’ and you know, anything that happened in the past that kind of shapes where we are now interests me.”
He shares his experiences with his students in the classroom all the time, which is what makes him able to connect with them, bringing an inspiring story with him everywhere he goes.
“It [the military] was an eye-opener in every aspect,” Cauley said. “That’s why I’ll tell any kid, yes, go into the military because you may go in thinking one way and then [start] thinking of the world, and thoughts and beliefs in a totally different way. And who knows, when you get out it can change two or three times and that’s what makes us who we are.”