Jackson Looks To Spend More Time With Family After 33 Years Of Coaching
Darren Doyle, story:
Edmonson County Lady Cat Head Basketball Coach Kevin Jackson has announced that he is officially stepping down after 33 total years of coaching high school basketball and softball.
The announcement was made at the April 29th Lady Cat Basketball banquet as the team celebrated their accomplishments together. Jackson said he made the decision late last week.
"After 33 years in coaching and education, I just felt like now is as good of a time as any to do this," he said. "I said when I came back here three years ago, I wanted to leave the program in better shape than it was when I got here, and I feel like I've done that."
Jackson spent a total of 26 years at Edmonson County. He first arrived in 1989 where he was the boys' freshmen and JV coach and varsity assistant. He took over duties of head coach for the girls in 1992 and stayed there for 11 seasons. He also served as head coach for Lady Cat softball from 2003-2010.
He returned to the Lady Cats in 2015 where the Lady Cats went 17-13. The team improved over the 2016-17 season to 23-9, and finally to 29-5 last season, the best record in the school's 44-year history. The team finished as District 12 Champions, Region 3 All-A Champions, and advanced to the final four of the Region 3 All-A State Classic. Their season ended in the second round of the Region 3 KHSAA tournament to Apollo.
"We had a tough loss to end our season this year," he said. "I took a month and just thought things over. I have two grandkids now and another one on the way. None of us know how much time we have left here so I just want to be sure I have the opportunity to be with my family if needed. Coaching is a complete five or six month commitment out of the year and my wife, Debbie, has been more than generous during all these years and now it's time for me to be with my family."
ECHS Athletic Director Kyle Pierce said Coach Jackson will be missed.
"Obviously we hate to see Coach Jackson leave, but we totally understand the reasons why. He had a tremendous return and took our girls program to new heights," he said.
"Coach Jackson came into this job three years ago with high expectations. He has been a proven winner over his career in every sport he has coached," Pierce added. "He does things the right way. He always focused on the fundamentals and built from there."
Lady Cat basketball won all four of their district titles under Jackson. Since Jackson's 2015 return, the team went 70-27. When asked how the 2017-18 team stacked up with all the others in his coaching career, he said this team will be long remembered.
"This team is as good as any group that I've ever seen," he said. "It wasn't just on the court, either. Out of 16 kids, we had 13 of them with a 4.0 GPA or higher. Those 13 were academic all-state. The other three were honorable mention. During our magical week at EKU (at the Region 3 All-A State), it just really came to us how special this group of young ladies actually was. It's the most well-behaved and mature group of kids I've seen in 33 years. We never had to worry about them. It just seemed you could always count of them to make good decisions. With this team, I just could never have asked for anything more."
Coach Jackson was also a two-time winner of the Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches Region 3 Girls' Coach of the Year award. He was showered with accolades from several organizations and media outlets over the years. Two girls from this past season's team, Caitlin Simon and Peyton Martin were named to the Lady Cat Wall of Fame, being the number one and number four all-time leading scorers, respectively.
While records, titles, and trophies are very important to coaches anywhere, Jackson wants to be remembered for something else.
"For every kid I've ever coached, and every team I've ever had, I hope they know that I really tried to give them everything I had. I made lots of mistakes, that's for sure. There are some things I like to redo, but I hope that in all my 33 years, I proved I always had the kids' best interests at heart. I've always tried to help them, and that goes for now as well as the future."
Director Pierce said there was no timetable set in stone for when another coach would be hired.
"The job was posted today and it should close at the end of May. We would like to have a new coach in place soon after. Obviously, we want the best coach possible for our girls program," he said. "For any sport, I always have a short list of people that I'll contact to gauge their interest. As of now, the girls coaching staff will take care of our off-season workouts until our new coach is announced."
When asked if there was ever a possibility of coming out of retirement, Jackson said he'd "never say never."
"I'm a little down today. This is the first time in my professional career where I've been without being involved in education, coaching, or both. I'm moving on now, but we'll just have to see what the future holds. Honestly though, this job is more of a young man or young woman's game these days."
Although Jackson currently resides in the Smiths Grove area and grew up there, going to school at Warren East, he has called Edmonson County home for a long time.
"To me, Edmonson County is home," he said. "I chose to be here. I wasn't born here, I didn't grow up here, but I chose to be here. It's a special place that will always be home to me."