By Phillip Haywood, Jr.
ST.PETERSBURG, FL — When you think of high school girl’s basketball coaches in Pinellas County, what name comes to mind?
Is it Ed Jackson, if you mentioned his name, you were absolutely right. Jackson is one of the winningest girl’s coaches in the Pinellas County. Here is another startling fact; Jackson has sent more players to college during his 33 years of coaching.
Actually Jackson started his coaching career at Pinellas Park High School under Bob Heintz on the varsity boy’s staff. He later coached the girl’s junior varsity at Pinellas Park.
In 1981, coached a struggling varsity team and transformed them into district contenders. Jackson sustained longevity at Pinellas Park where he coached for 19 years. During his tenure he won six district championships, three sectional titles, and back to back final fours. Also, his team was ranked #10 in the country for two consecutive years.
Later, Jackson inherited a strong program at Lakewood High School, in which he took over for Larry West. At Lakewood he won one district title, a sectional title and one regional title.
Again, Jackson took a brief hiatus in 2005. Once again the fire was still there; in 2007 he took over a dormant Gibbs squad who once had tradition. He rejuvenated a team that played a boring brand of basketball. Suddenly, after getting the program headed in the right direction he was abruptly dismissed.
Nevertheless, he stayed involved in the game by giving individual instruction. Believe it or not Jackson thrusted his name into the hat once again for the Gibbs job. Guess what? He took the job for a second time; he vows that this will be the last stop. Here are a few questions with Coach Jackson.
Westside Gazette (WG): How have you survived coaching so long?
Jackson: He says, “That I am a classroom teacher who loves what he does, and teaching and coaching goes hand in hand. Also to be a good coach you must be a good teacher and vice versa.” “Coaching is therapy to me and it is a lot of fun.”
WG: How much longer do you see yourself coaching?
Jackson: He says, “I will stick around after I retire because I have a granddaughter who is eight who has hinted that she wants to play.”
WG: What advice do you have for players of today?
Jackson: Be committed to what you do, and don’t be afraid to work hard. Don’t just play the game, know it and understand it. Work to be the most that you are capable of becoming.
WG: Who was the best player that you have ever coached?
Jackson: I have had so many, great guards, great forwards, post players and it is very hard to single one player out.
Finally, Ed Jackson has been around for a long time and he has earned the respect of his fellow counterparts. As of now it does not look like Jackson is showing signs of slowing down. In my opinion Jackson is the head of the class when it comes to girl’s basketball in Pinellas County.