By Marilyn Miller
Coach Jackie Lockett gathers her team together on the sidelines of the basketball court at Doyline High School. The band of Junior High girls hasn’t played together in a while, so when someone slips a Christmas card into Jackie’s hands it isn’t such a surprise. Inside she finds a gift certificate. But it’s the note on the outside of the envelope that touches her the most — “Thank you for everything you’ve done for me. I love you.”
That sentiment pretty much describes what most people think of Coach Lockett. She loves them…and they love her back. But on her part, it wasn’t always that way. Being a part of a community was something foreign to her.
“My parents always supported me,” she said. And God is a large part of her life. So, what was missing? How about basketball and community??
“My daughter was in the second grade, and we were living in Kinder, La. at the time. They needed a basketball coach, and they asked me if I would do it.” Since Jackie had played basketball in high school, she knew the sport. “I said ‘I can do that,’” Jackie recalled. “I’d always had a heart for it.”
By 2009, the Lockett family had moved to Doyline to reside in her grandparents’ house after both of their deaths. The opportunity to coach basketball came up again, this time with her daughter in the sixth grade. “I knew I’d be here (in the gym), on the sidelines, anyway, since I knew the kids,” she said, agreeing to wear another job hat.
“I wasn’t too involved in the community, but I started to meet people. And I got to know the kids. She quickly realized that a hug from her was “sometimes the only hug they would get.”
“It was at that point that I said there’s more to it than basketball, it’s about the kids. I could not wait until the next year. Then I got my first third grader, and I saw her graduate from high school. Yeah, that broke me. I knew it was about more than basketball.”
Coach Lockett began playing basketball at Rancho Verde High School in southern California, where she said she learned to be a team player. Playing a sport also taught her confidence, organization, and most importantly, kept her out of trouble.
“I focused on basketball, instead of the wrong things,” she said. “Now, when I’m coaching, I try to instill life lessons. And I treat every girl the same.”
Or boy, since she is a member of the Doyline High School coaching staff. She is head coach of the Junior High girls’ basketball team, assistant coach of the Junior High boys’ team, and assistant coach of the Varsity girls’ and boys’ teams.
One of those life lessons Jackie talks about is “looking up” to the wrong people as heroes.
“Relating that to myself, I can remember looking up to famous people when I was young. Then when I got older, I realized that my heroes were those people around me who made an impact on me in good ways.”
Her heroes include her parents, Greg and Kathy Brace of Haughton. Her daughter, Daijohni Lockett, 24, lives in the Doyline area with her two children, one-year-old Ke’eric Washington and two-month-old, Kareem Washington. Coach Lockett’s 22-year-old son, David Lockett, lives in Arizona. And she has another grandmother, Climmie Bradford.
Coach Lockett has an Associate Degree in Business Management from the University of Phoenix, and is certified in Coaching and Communications.
But her second job (really her first time-wise) really requires a degree in counseling. She has been working in the City of Minden’s Light & Water Dept. for 13 years.
What’s the best part of that job?
“I like to educate people,” she said, “Why is your bill so high? Let’s talk,” and she shows them their bill on a screen, pointing out the separate charges for electricity, water, etc. Perhaps their water is so high that a leak is likely. She likes being a problem-solver.”
And sometimes educating an entire community can be a good thing, Coach Lockett believes. She suggests that a Town Hall-type meeting be held every few months to address the electric bill problems.
One of Coach Lockett’s fondest jobs is directing the Praise & Worship Service at the Tillman Church of God in Christ in Heflin. She is also president of the Church District Choir, and holds other offices. Her faith is very important to her.
“Even when you are at your lowest, you can maintain a positive attitude and have faith,” she said, explaining that she had to have plenty of both when she was diagnosed with a Desmoid-type tumor in her shoulder in 2021. She had already had four surgeries between 2018-2021, when she asked her doctor, “What’s going on. I can’t even lift my arm!” He told her she had a mass in her shoulder. In February of 2022, she underwent chemotherapy for six months.
“When I was in chemo, it was bad,” Coach Lockett admitted. “My hands and feet were torn up, I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t do it.”
She was glad that her sessions were during the summer. Now she goes to M.D. Anderson Medical Center in Houston periodically and has “cryoblation” (freezing) therapy to shrink the mass.
“Hopefully it will shrink, and I will get my range of motion back,” she said, quoting David in Psalms 17:18, “I shall live and not die, and declare the works of the Lord.”
Afterall, she wants to get back to doing another love – refereeing basketball for high schools and recreation centers. “I had been doing it for seven years (before the shoulder mass) and I love it.”
Does being a Christian help with coaching and handling angry clients at the Light & Water Dept.?
“You treat people like you want to be treated,” she said, lamenting the regulation that prohibits praying with her kids, who “keep her going.”
In spite of all the jobs she has – she also works from 5:30-10:30 every Sunday night at the local dollar store – she doesn’t mind juggling all of her activities. Because it’s all about the kids. “I can have a bad day, and one hug from one of my kids is all I need. The public has been very supportive of me, and I love what I do.”
“I love my Doyline community,” she said, “I’m from California, and never thought of doing anything in my community.”
Coach Lockett “just wants to see everyone succeed.” She looks forward to coaching every year, and tries to watch as many of her kids play at other venues as possible.
She is a member of the Order of Eastern Star, serves on the board of the Jenkins Water System, and is one of the organizers of the Woman to Woman Fellowship, an organization that “builds others up because we know what it’s like to be torn down.”
“Something as simple as ‘God loves you’ can help you no matter what state you are in,” she said.
Yes, Coach Lockett stays busy. But she admits that she “could not do any of it without God.”
From singing in church to coaching basketball, she lays it all at the feet of Christ. “I honor Him in that,” she said.
God and family. Basketball and community. It’s a formula that works for Coach Jackie Lockett!