Bluth an inspiration in Warriors athletics

After three heart surgeries, Jackson Bluth still found himself on the field playing varsity sports this fall.

Jackson Bluth (middle) celebrates a goal with his teammates in a game earlier this year. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Jackson Bluth didn’t know if he would play sports again.

But after his third heart surgery when he was a freshman, he found himself on the B-squad soccer team at Brainerd High School.

Flash forward to his senior season in 2020 and he scored the game-winning goal for the Warriors varsity soccer team in a 1-0 win over Sartell and a goal in the Section 8-3A playoffs against Osseo.

“Such an inspiration to the team,” Warriors head soccer coach Tom Grausam said. “He’s shown the hard work and determination to overcome a lot as a young adult.”

The first of three heart surgeries for Bluth began when he was just barely a week old. Bluth was born with a congenital heart defect called coarctation of the aorta and at 9 days old was emitted to Children’s Hospital for his first heart surgery.


“They did emergency surgery to widen his aorta,” Bluth’s mom Tracy said.

Bluth’s second heart surgery came when he was going into fifth grade to widen his aorta again, but it wasn’t until after his third surgery when doctors put two stents in his heart where he saw big improvements.

“Since then it’s been a remarkable change,” Tracy said. “He has better color, endurance. It made a big difference — his last surgery. He’s been the healthiest he’s ever been.”

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Bluth is monitored for life by a cardiologist with whom he has yearly checkups. As he was growing up his parents were to watch for redness of the face and if Bluth was getting overly tired while playing sports.

Bluth also has an immune deficiency and doctors told him most likely that he may not be able to play varsity sports.

“Every time I was at the doctor they would tell me that they didn’t know if I was going to be able to play high school sports,” Bluth said. “So it felt good to be able to do that.”

Grausam said that Bluth is an inspiration. He’s a quiet student-athlete who works hard and stays out of the spotlight.


“He’s such a positive role model,” Grausam said. “He likes sharing moments with his teammates and gives credit to his teammates. The stress and pressure doesn’t get to him. He loves playing the game and he kept working hard and he knows when you work hard good things come from it. He’s quiet and very coachable.”

When the doctors told him he might not play sports Bluth didn’t dwell on it, but focused on working hard to possibly play.

“It feels good to prove the doctors wrong,” Bluth said. “Just playing varsity. They said they didn’t know if I was going to be able to. I was a little worried, but I didn’t let it control me.”

Bluth appreciates the support he has received from coaches, teammates and most importantly his parents.

“My teammates would see when I was not doing well and tell the coach I needed a break,” Bluth said. “And my parents were always pushing me.”

Bluth doesn’t have a favorite between basketball and soccer, but he brings the same mindset and coachability to each sport.

“I don’t think you can say enough about Jackson,” Warriors head basketball coach Charlie Schoeck said. “We talk about attitude, effort and being a good teammate, Jackson is those things in spades. If you didn’t know him you wouldn't know that he’s been through this stuff because he just shows up and works and is always picking up his teammates.

“He’s the type of guy where if you ask him to jump he’ll tell you how high. He’s receptive and a coach’s dream.”


Bluth wants to study physical therapy in college to possibly stay in sports.

“Just being around sports and helping athletes recover from stuff,” Bluth said.

As Bluth gets older, a fourth surgery could be in the cards for him, but for now he’s just happy he gets to play varsity sports.

“I scored my first varsity goal in the playoffs last year against Elk River,” he said. “I just worked a lot during the summer and trained. I don’t let it drag me down, just want to go out there and have fun.”

CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or Follow on Twitter at

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