Derek Jackson is now closer to home and he couldn’t be happier.
“I am beyond blessed by God to have the opportunity to move closer to home,” said Jackson, a 2010 graduate at Kellyville High School. “Plus, it’s a move up to the (Class) 6A ranks.”
Jackson was put in charge of Sand Springs’ volleyball team midway through the 2018-2019 school year, and now he’s ready to guide the Sandites after two years of being the head coach at Clinton.
And he’s out to change the mindset for a Sandites team that endured a 6-17 campaign a year ago.
“Class 6A, and specifically the Frontier Conference, is very competitive,” Jackson said. “But we have to bring our best, game in and game out. We have to get over the mentality of playing the bigger schools, like Jenks or Broken Arrow. Everyone is beatable when we play our best.”
Jackson has a group of seven seniors — McKenzie Harris, Cloe Campfield, Vanessa Wyrick, Raylynn Mong, Devree Youngblood, Gillian Wicker and Madison Burris — that he plans on turning to for guidance in 2019.
“Our seven seniors on varsity will be looked at for most of the leadership roles this year,” said Jackson, who attended Northern Oklahoma College (Tonkawa) right out of high school, before graduating from Oklahoma State.
As far as orchestrating everyone’s primary responsibilities on the team, Jackson knows who he’ll turn to at the positions on the floor.
“I expect our two setters, Raylynn Mong and Madison Burris, to do a great job for us,” Jackson said. “Devree Youngblood will continue to have success at outside hitter, too.
“Madison Blaylock will lead us defensively with digs, and Vanessa Wyrick and sophomore Jacelyn Smith will anchor us in the middle blocker position.”
And expectations in Jackson’s first year are geared at making steady improvements in the Frontier Conference landscape.
“We have talked about wanting to finish in the top half of the conference,” Jackson said. “And having a winning season.”