Brenita Jackson leads her community by mentoring minority athletes and coaches
Coaching is all about supporting your team, but Brenita Jackson, head coach of the Texas Wesleyan University’s Women’s Basketball team, isn't just building up players on the court — she’s also creating a community of support for basketball players and coaches all over the nation.
Jackson has been coaching at the collegiate level since 2008 — but she didn’t originally want to coach. She thought she would go into business and become a CEO.
“I was not wanting to be a coach actually,” she laughed, recalling that her coaches were constantly telling her she was coaching as a player. “I wasn’t necessarily looking for [a coaching job], but it has been a huge blessing ever since I got into it.”
It was Jackson’s former head coach, Rosalyn Tindel, that persuaded her to become a coach. Tindel was able to redirect her on a path that Jackson says, “has more meaning.”
“She called me and asked me to be her assistant. I said ‘yes’ because of who she was and the impact she had on my life as a player,” she said. “I wanted to be able to have that same impact on other young ladies and help them get their degrees, be the first in their families to graduate and go on and do amazing things.”
And that’s exactly what she’s done with the women’s basketball team at TXWES. She and her assistant coach and husband, Kevin Jackson, have instilled a sense of family in the team, focusing on developing them to become well-rounded in all aspects of life. It's what has made the team work together so well, earning titles TXWES women’s basketball hasn’t seen in over 40 years.
“Coaching wise, they’re the best coaching staff I’ve ever had,” said senior forward Makayla Coy. “Just the philosophies they’ve given us in teaching us that basketball is more than just dribbling, it’s about being a good person in the community and helping each other out. I see it working and relaying on the court with the successes we’ve had.”
Jackson also works to inspire other women and minority coaches, sharing experiences she’s faced as a Black woman coach — like being told she’s “too aggressive” and receiving technical fouls that her male counterparts wouldn’t receive for being passionate on the sidelines.
“As a Black woman in coaching, it feels like I have to be perfect and I’m not allowed to make mistakes,” she said. “And when you do make one, there’s nobody that really wants to help you.”
From her experiences, she realized the support that Black women coaches in the community need.
“I’ve been intentionally connecting with other African American coaches to help build them up and share with them my experiences,” she said. “I think it’s important that we not only strive for success, but help others get there too.”
She also mentioned that many other women inspire her just by watching who they are as coaches.
“I watch other women just from afar, and they kind of mentor me without me ever having a conversation with them,” she said. Jackson mentioned she’s inspired by women’s basketball coaches like Yolett McPhee-McCuin at the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss), Dawn Staley at the University of South Carolina and Adia Barnes at the University of Arizona. “These are women, and African American women, who are paving the way in an industry that is still really predominantly male and not minority.
“I love that they own their space. They just go out there – they lead, they coach, they inspire,” she said. “I hope I can just be a small inkling of what they are here in our little hidden gem at Texas Wesleyan.”
But the Jackson’s don’t just focus on their TXWES team. Brenita and Kevin have also built a business called KBJ Academy (which stands for Kevin and Brenita Jackson). It was built after the Jacksons coached at a college that suddenly just shut down.
“When the school shut down, we didn’t know what to do,” Brenita said. “I guess just that feeling of the insecurity of not knowing if that would ever happen again stirred up this entrepreneurial spirit.”
She and Kevin made a list of services they could provide outside of the school. They started with basketball skills training, but eventually evolved into camps, clinics and team-building retreats for people all over the country.
But it doesn’t end there — the Jacksons also host a couple of podcasts and have written a book, “Play College Basketball,” together. The book helps parents and students understand the collegiate athletic recruitment process and put a plan in place. The podcasts, “Coffee with KBJ” and “Hoops with KBJ,” inspire listeners to be their best, no matter who they are.
“The biggest thing for us was when we lost the job and the school shut down,” she said. “Going through that experience, as traumatic as it was, really pushed me toward helping people while having some other streams of income. I’m almost glad in a way [that the school shut down], because my impact has spread.
“Being able to help people is really what motivates me. And I realize that I wasn’t limited to just basketball."
Find out more about the Jackson’s and the Texas Wesleyan’s Women’s Basketball team by visiting ramsports.net.