After 30 years of coaching girls basketball teams at Lake View, Eliza Miller and Helena-West Helena, Willie Jackson says it’s time to call it a career.

 

After 30 years of coaching girls basketball teams at Lake View, Eliza Miller and Helena-West Helena, Willie Jackson says it’s time to call it a career.
“It’s a good ride,” says Jackson who ended his career Thursday night watching the Central Cougarettes close their 2009-2010 on a high note with a victory over the Paragould Lady Rams.
While his days of coaching are at an end he’s not leaving the Helena-West Helena School District.
“I am going to be the principal for the ALE (Alternative Learning Education) program,” Jackson said Friday.
Hence, Jackson knows his assignment, but doesn’t know where the ALE program will be conducted since that decision is still up in the air.
The district’s administrative offices on Valley Drive has been the subject of much discussion about housing the ALE.
The state Department of Education has given the district until April to make that decision or face possible loss of matching funds to assist with converting a site into the ALE.
As for coaching, Jackson leaves with a career mark of 601 wins against 315 losses.
The high point of his career came in 2006 when the Cougarettes reached the state championship game, finishing runner-up to Morrilton.
“We went 29-5,” Jackson recalled. The Cougarettes swept their conference with a 14-0 record and went undefeated (15-) at home.
Terrie Rusher, his assistant, interjected during this pre-game interview Thursday that Jackson took his team to seven straight  tournaments.
Jackson, who played for the old Lake View Dragons in high school, returned after college to coach his alma mater.
  He moved to Miller and then to joined the Central staff where he remained for 17 years, including the past 10 years as head coach.
  When asked who was his best player ever, Jackson quickly replied Audrey King.
King played at Miller and was killed in an automobile accident in 1993.
“Audrey was killed before she got to play in the 9th grade,” Miller said.
Jackson said King had the potential to become a WNBA player.
King was five-foot, seven-inches and was Jackson’s point guard at Miller.
Jackson said Nykita Gordon was one his best at Central.
“Nikita led Gulf Coast Community College (in Florida) to the junior college national championship,” Jackson said.
Gordon played her last two years for at the University of Arkansas at Monticello.
Joy Robertson and Viniecia Wade both went on to play fior Philander Smith College at Little Rock.
Jackson said being associated with such good players would be one of his best memories as a basketball coach.