EA Jackson named new field hockey coach

Eastern Mennonite University has announced the hiring of Ellen-Ashton (E.A.) Jackson as the school’s new head field hockey coach.  Jackson becomes the 13th head coach entering the 45th season of field hockey as a varsity sport at EMU.

Most recently, she has been the head coach at Albemarle High School in Charlottesville, Va., for five years, while working as a transitional specialist in the special education department there since 2001.  Jackson also founded and directs the C’ville United FHC, a travel field hockey club.

“I’m excited to tackle the challenge of coaching in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference,” Jackson explained.  “It’s a conference with a rich history of strong field hockey programs and fierce competition between schools from season to season.  I’m also looking forward to a step up in intensity and commitment that comes from working with athletes at the collegiate level.”

Director of Athletics Dave King said Jackson brings a wide range of expertise into her first collegiate coaching position.

“I’m very excited to have E.A. join our staff and begin the next chapter of our storied field hockey program,” King said.  “Her experience with both high school and club field hockey will help her make a successful transition to the collegiate level.  Having played Division III field hockey and coaching many players who have gone on to play in college, E.A. knows what it takes to play at our level and I am confident she can move the program upward within the ODAC.”

Jackson played collegiately while earning her undergraduate degree from Mary Washington, before adding a Masters in Education from George Washington University.  She was named the district Coach of the Year after her first season at Albemarle in 2009.  A number of her players have gone on to play in college, at both the D-I and D-III levels, including two women currently in the ODAC.

The new coach takes over a Royals field hockey program which has won 11 ODAC Championships, second-most in league history, and owns nine NCAA Tournament appearances.  EMU has not won a title since 2003, however, and last played in the championship game in 2009.

“I’ve seen the team play; the foundation is here,” explained Jackson.  “We’ve got a solid core of returning players who are hungry to help me usher in the fall season with a renewed sense of purpose and focus.  There’s no way to get around hard work and a focus on the basics skills that every player needs to be able to perform to the best of her ability.  I’m excited to see what this group of athletes can do when they work diligently together in pursuit of an ODAC Championship!”

Jackson’s Virginia roots will help her tap into the area’s recruiting base while expanding the existing reaches up the East Coast.

“Her involvement with the club program in Charlottesville along with her connections to field hockey programs throughout the state will help her in the recruiting efforts,” explained King.  “Knowing coaches and club programs is an important component to recruiting.  I’m confident that her connections will increase our ability to recruit, not only from Virginia but into Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.”

She is excited to springboard off the prestigious history of EMU field hockey while moving in a new direction.

“Energy, passion for the game of field hockey, a focus on the collective good of the team rather than pursuit of individual accolades,” Jackson explained as trademarks of her teams.  “I’m specifically interested in working with athletes who want to train with intensity and win with integrity.  I’m also excited to work with (and recruit) athletes who respect and understand the tradition of excellence of the EMU field hockey program.  I seek students who are willing to push themselves to uphold our core values and the established culture of the program, while at the same time are courageous enough to be a part of something new at EMU.”

After being active in introducing field hockey to the general population of Charlottesville, Jackson is also looking to connect Harrisonburg with the program at Eastern Mennonite.