COVINGTON - After two years as an assistant coach, Matthew Jackson is taking over the helm as the Lady Eagles basketball coach.
Being with former coach Jason Grooms for two years is going to be a big asset for Jackson since he knows the girls and what they're capable of doing.
However, he's known a lot of his players longer than that.
"I was the (girls) head coach at Indian Creek Middle School for eight years and I was with Jason at Eastside for two years. It was a great experience," Jackson said.
Even though the Lady Eagles had a losing record over the past two seasons, Jackson feels that the girls are on the verge of turning things around. The main reason for his optimism is because his players are getting older, bigger physically and more mature on and off the court.
"The maturity aspect of the girls will make them better," he said. "Making that transition from middle school to high school is a big jump. You have the physicality difference when you're playing against 17-, 18-year-old girls."
Also making the transition easier and smoother for Jackson and the girls is the fact that they know what to expect from each other.
"They know I expect discipline. Not that they didn't have that before, but I'm very, very strict, very, very committed. I really want all of our girls to play at the next level," Jackson said. "If they can't play at the next level, I want them to have a good enough experience to learn what hard work means so they can get an academic scholarship. That's what we're looking for, building on the foundation of discipline and being more committed to basketball, hard work and doing well in the classroom."
As head coach, Jackson plans on adding new offensive schemes while leaving a lot of things the same.
A lot of his focus is going to be on teaching the girls depend more on their athletic ability.
"We're going to lean more on their athleticism. We want to put the girls in a better position so they can use that athleticism so they can all be potential threats," said Jackson.
Besides having a solid junior class coming back, Jackson is going to utilize the senior leadership of Ieisha Williams and Antonia Mullins.
"We're looking for them to be great leaders," Jackson said. "I told both of them that they're going to have to be more vocal and they're going to have to be positive. My goal is to teach them how to give constructive criticism so that the rest of the players will follow."
Manny Fils can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.