Beyond the game: Ashley Jackson

Sports Reporter

Photo by: 

Senior defender Ashley Jackson has played 1000 minutes out of a possible 1350 this season with Texas State soccer.

Senior defender Ashley Jackson wanted to play basketball as a child, but the YMCA in Plano only offered soccer.

Jackson, who started playing soccer at the age of eight, has not stopped playing since.

“It’s been a part of my life forever,” Jackson said. “I’m just used to it. Soccer has really made me want to be better at everything. It’s kept me focused, and it gave me a scholarship.”

Coach Kat Conner converted Jackson, a forward, into a defender prior to her freshman year.

“She was very tenacious and quick,” Conner said. “She played like a forward and outside midfielder, because she was getting around defenders and setting up some good shots. I trained her as a defender because she was very athletic, and she did a really good job, so I kept her there.”

Jackson’s first extended taste of Division I soccer occurred in her freshman year. Jackson  replaced an injured outside defender and contributed a then career-high 48 minutes in the Bobcats’ 3-2 double overtime victory against Navy.

“I proved myself to my teammates and my coaches,” Jackson said. “I played with confidence. It used to be very difficult, going from an offensive mindset to a defensive mindset. Now it’s natural.”

Jackson appeared in 15 games in the following two seasons, and Conner challenged her last spring. Freshman defender Taylor Allen and sophomore defender Kristen Champion were vying for her starting job, and Jackson needed to improve during the summer.

“I thought it was going be a real battle,” Conner said. “Ashley (Jackson) did a great job staying fit, working on her touch and skill. She came in and won the job in the fall. She showed that she was dedicated to her training.”

Jackson worked out every day during the summer and substituted fried foods for healthier grilled versions.

“I’m motivated to be the best,” Jackson said. “I am very critical of myself, because I want to make sure I am performing to the best of my abilities, because it makes easier on my teammates.”

Junior defender Michelle Bucy missed six consecutive games after she suffered a concussion in Texas State’s 2-1 victory against Sam Houston State Sept. 13. Jackson inherited a larger role with Bucy sidelined, averaging 73.8 minutes per game in this span.

“You have to be aware of your surroundings and respond quickly to different situations,” Jackson said. “I’m more confident this year. I finally feel like a defender, and I understand my role and how to be successful.”

Jackson, a marketing major, received an acceptance letter to the Alpha Mu Alpha marketing organization last week. Alpha Mu Alpha accepts the top 15 percent of marketing majors, and she already has a sales marketing internship lined up for next summer after graduation.

“Ashley (Jackson) is an unbelievable person,” Conner said. “She’s grounded. Her priorities are straight, and she’s very demanding of herself and others. She’s someone you can really trust, and that’s what makes her so valuable.”