After being away from her college team for nearly a decade, Kaela Jackson is back home and returning to a field she loves as a coach of Gamecock softball.
Jackson played softball at the University of South Carolina for two years under head coach Beverly Smith. Jackson was a standout hitter for the Gamecocks, receiving numerous honors for her skills in the batter’s box.
After playing for the Gamecocks from fall 2010 to spring 2012, Jackson served as a graduate assistant for the softball team before landing her first job as an assistant coach for the Michigan State Spartans. She coached there for three years before receiving a phone call from Smith that changed Jackson’s life.
“I remember putting the phone on mute so me and my mom could scream we were so happy,” Jackson said. “I remember saying ‘I get to come home! I get to come home!’”
Jackson became the hitting coach for the Gamecocks last fall. As the hitting coach, she tweaks the players’ swings for the best results and teaches them how to have the correct mindset as a hitter.
Players like senior outfielder Kennedy Clark believe Jackson’s dual-perspective as both a player and a coach gives the players a next-level mentality.
“She was recently a hitter here and has the perspective of a player and coach,” Clark said. “It brings a different aspect to our game because she understands what’s going through our head when we’re up to bat.”
According to junior pitcher Cayla Drotar, Jackson is a unique coach because she provides lessons for the players both on and off the field.
“She’s like one of us,” Drotar said. “It’s a good feeling knowing I can come to her with anything I have going on and she’ll listen and not treat me any differently whether we are on the field or off.”
Since Jackson’s return to her alma mater, her lessons on the field have pushed the Gamecocks to a successful season. According to Gamecocks Online, after claiming the series against #4 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide, the Gamecocks were ranked 21 in the nation for home runs, hitting 45 in 36 games so far this season.
Coach Kaela Jackson, left, reviews a game plan with senior Kennedy Clark, center, and junior Cayla Drotar before their at-bats.
Coach Kaela Jackson is following in the footsteps of her late father Roger Jackson (Left) who coached at at App State as well as a scout for the Atlanta Braves. Jackson began her first full-time coaching job at Michigan State before moving back to USC.
Jackson, seated center, during picture day when she was an athlete at USC.
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