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Smith Names Kaela Jackson New Assistant Coach
Softball  . 

Smith Names Kaela Jackson New Assistant Coach

Jackson returns to alma mater as hitting coach

Columbia, S.C. —- South Carolina head coach Beverly Smith has hired Kaela Jackson, one of the brightest young minds in college softball, as an assistant coach. Jackson, a South Carolina alumna, joins the Carolina staff after three successful years at Michigan State and will primarily work with the Gamecock hitters. 

“I’m excited to announce that Gamecock alumna Kaela Jackson will be returning to her alma mater,” head coach Beverly Smith said. “I believe she is a rising star in the profession and has a love for the Gamecocks that is unmatched. 

“She is a coach’s daughter. She grew up on the field with her late father, Roger Jackson. Coaching is in her blood. Kaela’s passion for the game is infectious.” 

Most recently, Jackson served as an assistant coach at Michigan State, where she helped lead the Spartan offense to top-10 finishes in 12 different categories in two of her three years. In 2018, she guided Michigan State to a 26-26 record with wins over Minnesota, Michigan, Nebraska and FIU. In 2017, the Spartans were ranked in the top-25 nationally in batting average (No. 21), slugging percentage (No. 6), doubles per game (No. 8) and home runs per game (No. 9). That year MSU also set offensive team records for runs (345), batting average (.313), home runs (66), RBI (320), total bases (820), slugging percentage (.528) and on-base percentage (.405). 

“I am extremely grateful that I’m coming home to Carolina softball,” Jackson said. “I have great respect for Coach Smith and the culture she has developed over the years. As an alumna, I am proud to return to the Garnet and Black and give back to the university that gave me so many opportunities both on and off the diamond. 

“Becoming the hitting coach at South Carolina is a dream come true and I feel truly blessed to have the opportunity to impact the athletes and my community.” 

Jackson started her collegiate coaching career as a volunteer assistant at South Carolina, where she coached first base in all competitions and managed infield practice and strategy with associate head coach Lisa Navas among numerous other responsibilities. Prior to her role as volunteer assistant, she served as a graduate manager for the Gamecocks. 

During her time as graduate manager, Jackson earned a M.S. degree in exercise science after she earned a B.S. degree in Psychology from Carolina. Jackson also earned an associate’s degree in 2010 at Chattanooga State Community College. 

As a student athlete, she started her career at CSCC, where she was an NJCAA All-American in 2010. During the 2010 season, she helped lead the Tigers to an NJCAA World Series appearance, finished fourth in the country in homers and was named team captain. Jackson later transferred to South Carolina, where she was a two-time SEC Academic Honor Roll member and was named a team captain in 2012. A native of Morristown, Tenn., she played 26 games for Smith as the designated player in 2012 on her way to earning Capital One Academic All-District honors. 

Quote From Michigan State Head Coach Jacquie Joseph: “Kaela Jackson is one of the very best coaches to have worked on my staff at Michigan State. While we are sad to lose her, at the same time I am unbelievably happy that she has this opportunity. I am grateful for the time she spent as a Spartan and am extremely proud to have played any role in her development as a coach.  She is a proud Gamecock and they will be getting a bright, talented coach who will be focused not only on the student-athletes as players, but also as people. We all wish her the best as she begins this next chapter in her career.”