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Former Selma High basketball coach reaches impressive milestone

Coach Woodie Jackson has an impressive basketball resume that stretches over six decades.

Jackson recorded his 800th career victory as Francis Marion beat Choctaw County 48-39 at home.

With the win, Jackson is fourth on the state’s list of winningest coaches. Eugene Mason of RC Hatch is number one with 919 victories.

“It’s a blessing to win 800 games and I couldn’t have done it without God,” Jackson said.  “I wouldn’t be here without the players. I’ve been blessed with some good players through good years and some bad years.”

Jackson coached at Selma High from 2008 until retiring in 2016. He was retired until the School Supertindent brought him back to coaching almost two years ago.

“Then in the fall of last year, the superintendent called me back,” Jackson said. “This is my third go-around at Francis Marion. I’ve coached these kids’ daddies and their mothers. I coach the kids the same way I did on my very first day of coaching.”

Jackson still lives in Selma and makes the daily 30 minute commute to the campus in Marion. He’s coached 40 years.

The Lisman native took over at Francis Marion in 1987, guiding the Rams to four straight state championships from 1998 to 1991. He said basketball is a tradition in Perry County.

In 1992, Jackson left Francis Marion, but returned two years later and led the Rams to a state crown during the 2000 season.

“Being a basketball coach and administrator is a calling,” Jackson said. “Everyone is not called into education. I’ve been an administator and coach my whole life.”

Jackson’s other milestones are coaching the 2008 McDonald’s High School All-American game and the first Alabama-Mississippi All-Star basketball game in 1991.

Jackson, whose other state championship came with Westlake in 1978, said his legacy goes beyond scoring, rebounding and defense on the court. Off the court is equally important.

“At the end of the day, it’s not about basketball,” Jackson said. “It’s about molding the players’ character and making them good men.”

Jackson offered advice for this generation of teachers and coaches.

“In order to be successful, we need educators that are people (first),” Jackson said. “You’ve got to serve the community and learn how to be receptive.

“You have to be in it for the children because you are sure not going to get rich. I am not rich. I’m in it for the love of it and because I care about people. The players love me and I love them. With kids it doesn’t matter how much you know, they care about how much you care about them.”

That approach has made Jackson one of the greatest high school basketball coaches ever in the state. His legacy as coach and mentor won’t be surpassed and forgotten anytime soon.