Flint’s Chelsey Jackson’s late start at hoops is now paying off at IPFW

February 17, 2011

Flint's Chelsey Jackson of the IPFW women's basketball team.

By Eric Woodyard | The Flint Journal

FLINT, Michigan — The typical college athlete generally begins to play his/her desired sport at a very early age.  Most of the time they begin to hone their skills starting as soon as elementary school because they have a unique passion for their craft.

Chelsey Jackson was different.

“I was just playing because a couple of my other friends were playing,” Jackson said.

The Flint native didn’t participate in organized basketball until she was 12-years-old and didn’t get serious about it until after a close relative passed away. She used the game as an outlet to release her inner frustrations.

Jackson never dreamnt that something she did to help past the time would one day earn her a full-ride athletic scholarship to Indiana-Purdue/Fort Wayne University.

Now a senior playing on IPFW’s women’s basketball team, Jackson is one of the school’s all-time greats. On Feb. 5, she became just the 15th member of the university’s 1,000-point club after scoring a game-high 19 points against Western Illinois. Last Saturday, she showcased her skills in front her of loved ones when she made her homecoming trip to Michigan as the Mastodons took on Oakland University in Rochester.

With over thirty of her close relatives in the stands sporting white t-shirts that beared her name and number on them, Jackson poured in 12 points and handed out three assists. The Mastodons defeated the Grizzlies, 70-55.

“It’s always good coming here and playing in front of my family because a lot of them don’t get to go to Fort Wayne to see me play,” Jackson said.”So it’s always fun coming back here and playing.”

Although they may not have the time to be present for all of her contests, her folks are appreciative of all her accomplishments.

“I’ve always been proud of Chelsey since she first decided that she wanted to play. It’s just fantastic for me” Jackson’s father, Richard Williams said.”Playing Division I basketball, getting to play against some of the best talent in the country. What more can you ask?”

Jackson decided to attend IPFW after graduating from Flint Central high school in 2007. As a junior at Central, she only averaged 8.9 points but improved that production to 21.3 as a senior. She also led the city in scoring during her final year of prep basketball and was named to the First-Team All-Saginaw Valley Conference squad.

When it came time to decide on what college would be the best fit, she made her decision based solely on which program would afford her the opportunity to develop the best.

“I just felt like IPFW was a place that I could grow with because when I first came here the program wasn’t really big,” Jackson recalled.”They were just trying to sell us a dream on the idea, and I was just trying to find a place where I could just grow with the program. I felt like IPFW was the place where I could do that.”

Jackson averages 9.7 points thise season and has reached double-figures in her last four games.

On Monday, Jan. 31, she chipped in 23 points connecting on six of her nine field goal attempts against Centenary. She fired back with 19 points on Western Illinois. Against IUPUI on Feb. 7, she scored 15 points with five rebounds and added 12 more at Oakland.

“Her performances the last three weeks have been unbelievable. Chelsey’s always gone through some trying to figure out what she’s best at and she’s just figured it out now,” IPFW head coach, Chris Paul said.”You can just see it on the floor now, she’s calm, she’s comfortable, she looks like a senior, she’s shooting the ball with confidence. I just can’t say enough about the progress she’s made, not only this year but from her freshman year until now.”

IPFW is in second place of the Summit League with a record of 11-3 in conference play.The Mastodons have a overall record of 17-6.

“I’m just trying to work hard every time, every second I am on the court and that’s been paying off,” Jackson added.

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