Head Coach Misha Jackson (13C) has been a part of the Emory University women’s basketball program since her sophomore year in 2010. Her performance during those years shot her into the ranks of the school’s Top 10 all-time performers in 11 categories including no. 1 in blocked shots average (1.2 bpg), no. 7 in rebounds (621) and no. 10 in total points (900), where her name remains to this day. After a successful three-year career as a forward, she joined the staff as an assistant coach and remained in this role until she was appointed as the Eagles’ interim head coach in 2017 and head coach in March 2018.
In her two-year career as head coach, she has led the Eagles to their first NCAA Tournament since 2013 and finished the 2019 season with a 19-7 record, the fourth-highest win total in school history. Jackson also led her squad to No. 2 in the University Athletic Association’s (UAA) 2019 season with a record of 10-4, the fourth time that Emory finished with double-digit wins in league play.
This transcript has been edited for clarity and length.
Ava Villalba, The Emory Wheel: What are your long term goals as a coach?
Misha Jackson: Honestly, I became a head coach a little sooner than I thought. But as far as goals for me right now, career-wise, it’s building a national program and getting our name back out there. We’re ranked right now, but building a championship culture, and not only just the culture, but also getting some results with that, getting some banners, getting some hardware.
TEW: What has been one of your favorite moments coaching?
MJ: You know, it’s hard to say, but if it had to be an event, it’d definitely be making the NCAA tournament last year. I think that was something this group has wanted for a really long time, especially that senior class. Building up to that and just seeing it in a very dramatic fashion, and then seeing them go, was awesome. Other than that, I think just growing with this team. You know, with our senior class, they have had me as an assistant to interim coach to the official head coach… We have come a long way. Just the journey with this core group of players has been fun.
TEW: What do you value most in a player?
MJ: It’s definitely that grit factor. How much they are a team player. Being a great teammate is big for me, so it goes far and beyond the little things of whether you’re helping your teammate up or things like that. Or are you willing to hold them accountable? If you’re having a bad game, are you still able to be a great teammate? Are you diving on the floor for loose balls? It sounds like the obvious answers, but those things go a long way — it’s those intangibles to me that really separate the good from the great players.
TEW: What is the coolest thing about first playing for Emory and now coaching for Emory?
MJ: It’s definitely cool having played for the team, and I think I definitely take advantage of it, just because I know what it’s like to be a student-athlete here, and I know what the team is going through. I’ve been able to see the team grow and change since I played, and it’s been really cool. You know, nothing beats playing the game, so that was definitely fun, but coaching these past couple of years has been extremely rewarding.
TEW: What are your goals for the rest of the season?
MJ: Definitely to make the NCAA tournament, that’s the big one. But first, to secure that [UAA] conference championship win.
TEW: As a coach, what do you value most in terms of coaching techniques or practices?
MJ: Respect, pride and loyalty. Take pride in what you do. You gotta be willing to work hard. Trust is another one. Trust the process, trust one another. Finally, to “handle your business like a woman.” This isn’t about separating men and women, but rather women from girls. If you have an issue, handle it yourself instead of bickering about it. It’s about taking responsibility for yourself.