FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – In the world of sports, the best coaches play a huge role in an athlete’s development in and out of the game.
For former and current Highlight Zone stars Jalen, Neveah, Saniya and Swynn Jackson, that coach goes by another name: Mom.
The last two seasons, Katie Jackson has led Northrop High School’s girls basketball program. All three of her daughters shined throughout this past season, helping the Bruins win their first SAC title since 1986. Saniya and Neveah spent the last two years under their mom’s tutelage, with Swynn starting her high school career this season.
Despite being tasked with leading a varsity girls basketball team, Katie Jackson admits that’s not her most important job.
“I’m a mom, then an assistant principal, then a coach,” Katie said.
A former basketball standout at North Side High School and IPFW, Katie passed along her love of basketball to her four children. Katie shuttled her “little ducklings” between practices, games and AAU tournaments in the summer over the years.
“Obviously it caused arguments,” Neveah recalled. “We play against each other. I feel like it’s made us as close as we are. Our family’s not too big. Having basketball keeps us all together. There’s never a dull moment in the house.”
As Katie’s older children got older, they also blossomed on the hardwood. It helped that their mom was also a basketball junkie.
“You have to be thankful because not a lot of kids can say my mom played Division I and had to go to the WNBA,” said Jalen.
Jalen, Neveah and Saniya started their high school basketball careers at Carroll. The Jackson family became Bruins after Katie was offered Northrop’s head girls basketball coaching role and an assistant principal position. Katie revealed she accepted that job so she could be closer to her kids.
“Having those times at lunch, spending those times in the hallway during a passing period. All of those minutes and those fractions of time mean so much to us as a family,” Katie said.
Through the chaos of being a single mom, Katie has enjoyed spending those precious seconds with her kids.
This Mother’s Day, Katie’s nest is about become a little more empty. Jalen is already a year into his college basketball career, but the former Indiana All-Star is returning to the Summit City to play at Purdue Fort Wayne. Meanwhile, Neveah and Saniya are about to begin their college basketball careers at Valparaiso University.
That leaves Katie and her youngest daughter, Swynn. As her two oldest daughters get ready to begin a new chapter in their lives, Katie knows they’re well prepared for what’s ahead.
“(It’s) going to be kind of odd for Swynn and me not to have those feet in the house and those games of UNO, but I’m very proud of them,” Katie said.
No matter what, Katie is most thankful for one, rather four things.
“The four of (my kids),” Katie said. “They’re my most prized possession.”