Brenita Jackson is a basketball coach from the USA and has been on of the FCN bloggers since November 2016. She has coached women’s college basketball for 8 years improving the culture at each school she worked for. She started playing basketball at Cedar Hill High School in Texas,USA and went on to play professionally in Aarhus, Denmark. She beganher coaching career while in Denmark leading the junior team to an undefeated season. She currently holds a Master’s Degree in Coaching and Athletic Administration from Concordia University in Irvine, CA.
Blow is an article about Brenita’s coaching journey and how she founded her current coaching organisation KBJ Academy with her now husband Kevin.
When she was hired for her first head coaching gig, Brenita Williams wanted to bring along the perfect assistant coach.
She knew what she wanted.
Someone who shared her philosophy on smart, fast, aggressive basketball.
Someone who understood that player development was as important off the court as on.
Someone who would bring ideas to the table and could hold his own in a debate but be flexible in working toward a solution.
She knew the right man for the job.
But there were two problems:
1. He was her ex-boyfriend.
2. And he had no interest in becoming a women’s basketball coach.
“I turned her down,” Kevin Jackson said. “Cold.”
“Several times,” she chimed in. “I had to recruit him like a D-I athlete.”
After a succession of no’s, Williams showed Jackson a binder that contained her detailed plan for running a winning basketball program.
He was hooked.
The duo lit a spark under Lon Morris by leading a squad that was picked by league coaches to finish last to the conference tournament championship game.
While doing so, they also rekindled a love that is among the rarest of sports relationships. A relationship they brought to San Jacinto before the 2013-14 season.
Their coaching union is in its fifth season. Their marital union just entered its third. (The couple celebrated their second wedding anniversary in December.)
“I don’t feel like I’m the dominant one, but for administrative purposes, yeah, I’m the decision-maker at the end of the day,” Brenita Jackson said. “But that’s just at work. When we go home, it’s totally different. I have to remind myself to ‘turn it off, you’re at home.’ ”
Her husband, and assistant, (she calls him a co-head coach) said the roles aren’t confusing.
“When people ask me, I tell them, ‘She’s the head coach; I’m the assistant.’ That doesn’t bother me any,” Kevin said.
Head coaches and assistants often quarrel over strategy, procedure, schemes. The Jacksons say they are no different.
“We’re both competitors,” Brenita said, “so that’s not a bad thing.”
One thing is certainly different for the Jacksons compared to most head coaches and assistants.
Because they share an address, their disagreements aren’t as easily left on the basketball court or in the coaches’ office.
“With us being husband and wife, it’s going to come up. And we’re going to talk about it,” Brenita said. “For us, we can’t go home and not hash it out. Because it’s going to be weird at home. So we have to talk. I think that is the best part about us.
“Most coaches, if they don’t agree, they go home and whine and complain to their own husband or wife, and the problem may never get solved. For us, we can’t do that. We’re going to go home and do what, not talk to each other? I won’t cook him dinner? Then it’s going to be a problem.”
The two of them laughed. Hard.
There was little humor around the Jackson household last season, their first at San Jac. The Gators went 3-27, finished 1-17 in conference play and ended the year on a 13-game skid.
Always overshadowed by the renowned men’s program built by Scott Gernander, San Jac’s women have not won a regional championship since 1983. San Jac’s league record the previous five seasons was 12-76.
The Jacksons weren’t accustomed to losing. And they weren’t about to adapt.
“We had to change everybody’s mindset … the mindset that losing was OK,” Brenita said. “It’s not OK to get into trouble. It’s not OK to not go to class. … Losing is not OK.”
The message has been received.
Entering Saturday’s game at Angelina, the Gators were 15-4 overall and 6-3 in the conference, with their losses coming to ranked teams, including two defeats to powerhouse Trinity Valley, the three-time defending national champion.
With five players scoring in double digits, led by sophomore Kendra Howard (15.6 ppg), San Jac was ranked No. 9 nationally before a 77-72 loss at Trinity on Jan. 14.
“It’s definitely a family environment here,” said Miranda Lejune, a freshman point guard from Pearland, who averages 9.4 points and 8.1 assists a game. “But there is no difference in playing for them than any other two coaches.
“Their being husband and wife doesn’t make a difference for us as players.”
Whistle while they work
But it makes a difference.
At Friday’s practice, there was little question about who was in charge.
The head coach had a whistle. So did her husband. So did assistant Adonna Walker, who joined the staff last week.
But Brenita’s whistle was the only one getting any work.
The quiet gym, save for the bouncing of basketballs, and those whistles, is what you see when coaches are in sync.
Brenita had been away on a recruiting trip for much of the week, and without her saying so, Kevin knew she likely would be more hands-on prepping her team for a game the next day.
Theirs is a good fit. And has been for nearly 10 years.
Kevin said the two have talked to other married and co-head coaches about their unique circumstances, and tease about one day giving seminars on how it is done.
“That would be fun,” Kevin said laughing.
“Noooo,” Brenita responded with a smile, giving her husband one of those looks.
Not a lot of assistants get that look from their head coach. Not a lot of assistants look at their head coach like Kevin does.
Five years before being recruited by Brenita to join her coaching staff at Lon Morris, Kevin , a defensive back at Southeastern Louisiana, was at the school’s soccer field when he saw a beautiful young lady from a distance.
One day he probably will tell his grandchildren it was love at first sight.
“I thought, ‘Man, she’s pretty, but I have work to do,’ ” he said.
So he didn’t even give Brenita, who was visiting the campus where she eventually would sign to play basketball, a double-take.
The two wouldn’t meet until that fall semester when Kevin walked into an accounting class.
“And there she was,” he said, his eyes lighting up at the memory of the next sighting.
They talked. They became friends. Their first romance wouldn’t come until much later.
Kevin had hoped to find his way into the NFL after college, but a third torn ACL ruined any chance he might have of catching on with a team as a free agent.
Brenita, an All-Southland Conference pick at Southeastern Louisiana, left college to play professionally in Denmark, where she coached a junior club team to an unbeaten mark.
She returned home to a job as an assistant at Lon Morris, where she played after she left Cedar Hill High School, and she and Kevin stopped dating but remained good friends.
Kevin, who played high school basketball at Christian Life Academy in Baton Rouge, La., helped Brenita coach a youth summer league team in Dallas.
Best friends first
Then she asked him to assist her in coaching at Lon Morris and wouldn’t take no for an answer.
Kevin wasn’t sure about taking the job, but Brenita, who made one of her players do pushups at practice Friday for “indecision in transition,” knew her friend better than he knew himself.
“That’s the thing … you ask about the challenges of coaching together and being married? Well, she will always be my best friend,” he said. “That’s a great basis to start any relationship. We were solid, aces, almost immediately. That came first.
“Coaching basketball together has only made us closer.”
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: houstonchronicle.com