This week’s feature is with basketball player Crissa Jackson.
When locals think of the world famous Harlem Globetrotters, almost instantly, the name Gator Rivers comes to mind. And if somebody asks you to name the people associated with Savannah State who were members of the Globetrotters organization, the names of Harold Hubbard, Matt Jackson, Michael Jordan, Vincent White, Kevin Sutton and coach Russell Ellington can be rattled off.
You can now add Crissa Jackson to that impressive list.
Jackson is in her second season as a member of the organization and is the 13th female to wear a Globetrotters uniform. “It is such an amazing feeling. I feel honored to be the 13th female to play for such a historic and iconic team.”
Last season, as a rookie, Jackson said she was able to visit 12 different countries. “Just to name a few, I have been to Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Slovakia, and Finland.”
When asked about her greatest memory so far as a Globetrotter, Jackson said that she has had many great memories so far. “I would have to say that my best memory was when a little girl ran up to me and gave me a big hug after our game during our autograph session. She said that I am an inspiration and that I am her hero. When she said that it made my heart melt and made me realize how influential I am to our young generation. I will never forget her or any of my fans.”
Sweet Lou Dunbar, the Globetrotters director of player personnel and coach says that Jackson is already a fan favorite. “Ace will become one of our most popular females. She works hard at her craft and she loves the kids. She has what it takes to be a Globetrotter. Great smile, great attitude, and a tremendous athlete. What more could you ask for?”
Jackson said that when she was approached about possibly becoming a Globetrotter, she thought the person was joking around. “I got a call from Handles Franklin, someone I followed and looked up to growing up through the ranks, asking me if I would like to try out for the Harlem Globetrotters. At first I did not give him an answer because I thought he was joking around with me. But once I realize that he was serious, I took the offer.”
All Globetrotters have a nickname and Jackson is called “Ace”. She said she got that name because of her work ethic. “I am a pretty competitive person, who is always striving to be the best I can be. This usually results into me trying to be the first in line for everything.”
Before she started her Globetrotters career, Jackson was a personal fitness trainer. “Fitness is my second passion,” she says.
Jackson said that while growing up, if she wasn’t playing basketball, she would be training in the weight room or on the track or stairs, trying to do anything that will make her a stronger and faster basketball player. She adds that she enjoys helping people and found it rewarding seeing her clients reach their goals and becoming the person they want to be physically, mentally, and even emotionally.
The 5-foot-4 Jackson grew up in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania but ended up signing a basketball scholarship to attend Savannah State. “After graduation from high school I attended IMG Academies in Bradenton Florida. During my attendance at IMG I spoke to the coach from Savannah State University and scheduled a time to visit. I visited Savannah State University and decided that was the school I wanted to attend.”
She says that she enjoyed her time at SSU. “I have so many memories at SSU. The most distinct memories I have are from my freshman year. I remember having 5 a.m. practices on the track. I remember seeing fraternities and sororities for the first time. I remember breakfast and lunch being amazing with their omlettes and fried fish. These are just a few of the memories that I have. But at that time SSU was home.”
During her freshman year (2008-09), she led the team in made free throw percentage (81%), made 3-pointers (22), assists (74) and steals (54). Jackson’s play landed her as a honorable mention on the Division I All-Independent Team. As a sophomore, she averaged 9.3 points and 2.9 rebounds a game and led the team in assists (105) and made field goals (91) which resulted her her making the All-Independent Second Team.
Despite the fact that she liked attending SSU, a family illness forced her to leave. “My father is currently a dialysis patient. At that time, 2010, my father was living in California and was in his early stages of kidney disease. My father has been a large part of my life and it killed me to know that he was suffering and I was not there to help him through it. Therefore, I made a decision to move to California to help support my father.”
She adds that she still keeps in touch with her former Lady Tiger teammates. “I am fortunate enough to keep in touch with some of my teammates. There will always be a special bond between my teammates and I, because they spent those same years of blood sweat and tears fighting for the same game we all love to play.”
Once she left Savannah State she found herself at Point Loma Nazarene, a Division II in California. “Because my decision to move was so spontaneous, Point Loma Nazarene University was the closest University to my father that was still recruiting and provided me with a full-ride scholarship. After visiting this beautiful School and meeting the coaches, I knew this is where I could make my home.”
During the 2010- 11 season, Jackson averaged 15.4 points, 4.3 assists and 1.9 steals. As a senior, she averaged 12.3 points, 3.8 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 2.7 steals per game. Jackson left California in 2012 and started working as a personal fitness trainer. In 2014, she went back to Pennsylvania but continued to work as a personal fitness trainer.
Jackson, 27, says that confidence is the key, when asked what advice she would give to other females to want to try out to be a Harlem Globetrotter. “They must be confident in their game and be yourself. Being a Globetrotter is not only being an athlete; it’s ’s being an Ambassador of Goodwill, a role model, an entertainer, and an athlete. They have to go to try outs wanting to make a difference in people’s lives.”
The Globetrotters kicked off their 2017 World Tour in Pittsburgh on December 26 and will be at the Savannah Civic Center on March 9 at 7p.m.