Love of game provides drive for Jackson in senior season


Tom DiGrispino

Senior basketball player Mya-Lee Jackson

Senior Mya-Lee went from not knowing what a basketball was in fourth grade to playing varsity her freshman year. 

“I was pretty tall in fourth grade so they said, ‘Why don’t you just play basketball’ and I went and I liked it,” Jackson said. 

She recalled a moment when she played for the first time and broke down into tears because she wasn’t having fun, but as she got older she found her love for the game.

“I started to have fun and the AAU team I was playing on was like family so it was for fun, but as I got older that’s when it started to get serious,” she said.

Jackson found further inspiration from an older cousin. 

“My cousin Jenasae liked basketball her whole life and ended up going D1 to Wright State. She inspired me to play,” Jackson said. 

 Fast-forward to the 2022-2023 season, Mya is going into her senior year and trying to take in all the final memories. “Just preparing for all the first last, the last first game, and the last picture day,” she said. 

She is trying to enjoy the experience. 

“Going into the season with good energy, it’s going into knowing it’s my last year, but when it’s all set and done, I have to make it the best season and have a good time with my team,” Jackson said.

Being a she is a four-year varsity player, she has now taken on the role of being a leader and a captain for the team as she tries to keep the team motivated for the season. 

“We are a young team and we have to start completely over, so just motivating  them to play to the best of their ability,” she said of her goals, “and let them know it’s OK to make mistakes and we’re here to get better.”  

Even as a leader on the team she still relies on her team to keep her on track as well. 

“I know I can lose my head sometimes too, and I’m able to rely on my teammates to pick me up,” Jackson said. 

 Head Coach Kelly Kratz has seen Jackson step up and be a great leader for the team.

“She has taken on a more vocal leadership role,” Coach Kratz said. “In addition to being the hardest worker in practice, Mya is the first kid on the court every day at practice. She also puts in extra work outside of practice to improve her game.” 

Jackson has made huge strides to improve her game. 

“Over the offseason, I feel I definitely improved my shot, at first it was very inconsistent and it took many games to knock down a three, but now I’m starting to make them back to back or multiple a game, so definitely my shot and defense with footwork,” Jackson said.

Mya-Lee has also taken the time to improve on the mental aspect of her game along with her fundamentals. 

“Mya has expanded her game to be a multidimensional scorer,” Coach Kratz said. “Her basketball IQ is one of the best I’ve ever coached, she has worked hard to improve her skills.” Basketball is more than just a game to Jackson; it’s a sense of relief.

“Basketball is like my safe space, you can say I go there when I’m feeling down or when I’m frustrated with myself, it’s just a way for myself to clear my mind,”she said.

She uses it as a type of therapy.

“I feel like a lot of the time people tend to lean on others to help them with their problems when you can find a hobby that doesn’t involve being vocal, so I go to the gym and shoot,” Jackson said.

When playing it allows Mya-Lee to lock in and be herself.

“I like everything to be perfect, I feel like myself when I play, I’m able to really go at it and just have a clear mind of everything else that is happening around me. I think of every possible scenario of what could happen, and try to figure out a solution,” she said.

After Mya-Lee finishes highschool she plans on playing basketball on the collegiate level.

“ I do plan in college, I am not exactly sure where, but I do have a goal of being able to play college basketball,” Jackson said.

Jackson has made plenty of memories with her team, but one stands out most.

“My favorite memory of my highschool career is winning a Sectional championship against Lake Central my sophomore year, being able to cut down the net for the first time,”Jackson said.

The memory helps motivate her going into her senior season.

“I rarely played in that championship game, and because of that it felt like I didn’t earn it, so that really motivates me to go again this year and really earn and deserve a Sectional championship,” she said. 

After this season ends, she hope to leave a legacy withing the program.

“Time will tell, but I anticipate her hard-working, intelligent and team-oriented mindset will be something that lasts long after she graduates,” Coach Kratz said. “Her growth and progression throughout the years is something to be admired as well.”