Jackson extends family tradition
Allison McClain, Centenary College Athletics
It’s a game of numbers. A game filled with history and success. It becomes a part of one and a part of many. She is one, but represents many.
One thousand. It is a number that many strive to reach, but few ever reach. In fact, just four have met that mark during their collegiate days.
That’s right, just four have ever reached 1,000 at Centenary College.
Ashley Jackson, a senior forward on the Centenary women’s basketball team, is one of four. Her free throw on Jan. 15, 2011, in the final minute of play against Summit League foe Southern Utah put Ashley in elite company with exactly 1,000 career points.
“I didn’t set out for this to be a goal of mine, but after achieving 1,000 points I am extremely excited about the accomplishment,” said Ashley. “It is a great honor to be in company with such great women’s basketball players over the years.”
She represents Shreveport after graduating high school at Loyola College Prep in 2007. Centenary was home. It was what she knew.
“I wanted to stay close to my family,” she said. “The thought of continuing my parents’ tradition on the basketball court gave me another great reason to continue my playing career in the Gold Dome.”
Ashley joined the Ladies with rich history. Coming from a family of two former Centenary basketball superstars, her legacy, to most, would be hard to live up to. Although it would be tough, her commitment to the program and desire to represent, gave her a chance to build on her family’s rich history.
“I have to give my parents the credit for my success as they served as life-long teachers and motivators on and off the court,” said Ashley. “None of my achievements would be possible without them.”
Father Willie, a member of the Gents from 1980-84, remains one of the finest basketball players to ever wear a Centenary jersey.
Nicknamed “The Legend,” Willie rewrote the record book during his four years as he took over the top spot on the all-time points list with 2,535 career points and still holds that honor today.
He is one who has reached this great milestone. One could only imagine that this now becomes a father-daughter topic of conversation at the holiday dinner table. A Centenary Athletics Hall of Famer, inducted in the Class of 1996, Willie represents one and many.
“You don’t have that many players that can reach this mark, which ultimately means she has been very consistent on the court,” said Willie.
Mother Zebber, a member of the Ladies from 1981-83 notched her name in almost every offensive and defensive category in the Ladies record book. She was the first inductee into the Centenary Athletics Hall of Fame to represent the women’s basketball team.
Ashley closed in on her mother’s point total a year ago and finally surpassed it this season. Zebber finished her career with 876 points.
“I am thrilled to share this memory with Ashley,” said Zebber. “It feels great to have her surpass me in the record books. It's something we will always share.”
Ashley and Zebber also share the memory of wearing the number 34 jersey with the word “Ladies” across the front.
“It is truly an honor to see my parents in the record books,” commented Ashley. “I always hear stories about when they played and I am excited to leave my mark here as well.”
Ashley’s playing career began in the third grade. She continued to play AAU ball for former Gent Ronnie McCollum, who sits second behind her father Willie in the all-time points scored category.
It becomes a circle of connection, a lifelong journey to find success. Ashley’s success was inevitable.
She has led the team in scoring the past two seasons and has remained in the top three all four years. With less than 10 games left in the season, Ashley is on track to finish second all-time in points scored behind Alexis Pettway’s 1,416 career points.
Ashley’s career-best game came this season in a 25-point effort against IPFW on Dec. 31, 2010. Not only an avid scorer, the forward is second on the team in rebounds and has a career-best 14 to her name that came against Oakland on Dec. 29, 2010.
With her success comes the ability to define it and directly seek what the game has taught her.
“College basketball has taught me the ability to persevere through tough times,” she added. “I feel these lessons I have learned from playing for Centenary will help me throughout life.”
Centenary is the smallest NCAA Division I college in the country and Ashley represented that name and title for four years, both on and off the court.
“My academic experience at Centenary has been truly great. My professors have always been very supportive and I absolutely feel prepared for graduate school.”
Yes. Her education doesn’t stop at the small college on Kings’ Highway, nestled in Northwest Louisiana. Ashley has plans on taking her education as a philosophy major and political science minor to law school following graduation this spring.
When asked where she sees herself in 10 years, she says confidently, “working at a law firm.”
A college athlete is able to share something special, something unique that many students never have the chance of experiencing. Ashley’s four years have been no different.
“The friends I have been able to make and the places I have visited on my many road trips have to be the best memories of being a part of this team,” said Ashley.
From a young prep star to a 1,000-point scorer for Centenary, Ashley’s milestone and achievement that was reached this season will remain a part of Centenary basketball history forever.
“Centenary basketball has been a very important chapter in my life and has significantly prepared me for my next chapter ahead,” said Ashley.