Original article (Melissa Jackson Chosen to Lead Youngstown State’s Women’s Basketball Program) on Youngstown State’s athletic website ysusports.com.

Melissa Jackson, one of Northeast Ohio’s most recognizable names in women’s basketball over the past two decades, has been chosen to be the ninth head coach of the Youngstown State University women’s basketball program.

Jackson has been in the region for the past 16 years of her coaching career, spending 15 seasons at Akron and the most recent campaign at Cleveland State. Her final five seasons in Akron were as the Zips’ head coach, and she is the only coach in the program’s history to have a winning record.

“We’re thrilled to have someone of Coach Jackson’s quality and history in Northeast Ohio lead our program,” said YSU Executive Director of Athletics Ron Strollo. “I firmly believe she has the passion, skillset and vision to push our women’s basketball program to new levels. I’m confident our fans will be energized by the brand of basketball that she will bring to Beeghly Center and enjoy getting to know her family and her off the court.”

“Coach Jackson has shown throughout her career that she excels in skill development, which will help bring out the best in our returning student-athletes. She has also spent the better part of two decades in Northeast Ohio establishing relationships with coaches and student-athletes, and we’re excited to see the high-quality future Penguins she will recruit from high school and the transfer portal.”

Jackson echoed Strollo’s excitement for the future of the program.

“I want to thank Youngstown State University President Bill Johnson and Executive Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Ron Strollo for trusting me with this amazing opportunity,” Jackson said. “From the start of this process, Ron and I have been perfectly aligned in the vision for Youngstown State women’s basketball.”

“YSU is a program that I am very familiar with and have always had a tremendous amount of respect for,” she added. “There is an immense amount of support and pride in the Penguin family! My staff and I will work tirelessly, approaching everything we do with a championship mindset. My family and I are so excited to become a part of the Youngstown and YSU community! I cannot wait to meet our phenomenal young women and get to work! Go Penguins!”

This past season, Jackson was an assistant coach at Cleveland State as the Vikings won the Horizon League regular-season title and finished as the runners-up in the conference tournament. CSU is currently 29-5, with the 29 wins marking the second-highest single-season win total in program history, as it awaits a postseason berth.

Jackson held three different positions over her 15 seasons at Akron from 2008-23 and was part of the Zips’ best period in program history. She was an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator on Jodi Kest’s staff from 2008-12, and she was elevated to the role of associate head coach alongside Kest from 2012-18.

The Zips appeared in five postseason tournaments as Jackson recruited and developed some of the most prolific scorers and passers in program history during her decade as an assistant. Akron made the only NCAA Tournament appearance in school history in 2014, and it had Women’s NIT berths in 2013, 2015 and 2016, as it enjoyed a stretch at the top of the MAC.

Jackson’s role in Akron’s success under Kest helped her earn a promotion to Akron’s head coach before the 2018-19 season, and she helped the Zips assemble a 72-69 record and 40 MAC victories in her five seasons. She led the Zips to at least 15 wins in four of her five seasons, with the lone exception being the 2020-21 campaign that was largely affected by COVID-19. She registered 31 wins in her first two seasons, a program record for wins by a head coach during his or her first two seasons, and 34 wins over the last two. She led Akron to an appearance in the Women’s Basketball Invitational in 2019 and a trip to the WNIT in 2022.

On the individual level, Jackson coached three Mid-American Conference Players of the Year at Akron – Rachel Tecca (2012-13) and Sina King (2014-15) when she was an assistant and Jordyn Dawson (2021-22) when she was head coach. In total, she coached 23 All-MAC selections and experienced 234 victories while at Akron.

Jackson spent the first four years of her coaching career at Delaware from 2004-08. The Blue Hens won 80 games overall and 51 conference contests in those four seasons, and they finished with at least 25 wins twice. Delaware earned an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament in 2006-07 behind Tyresa Smith, the 18th overall selection in the 2007 WNBA Draft, and they earned WNIT berths in 2004-05 and 2006-07.

A native of Hazelton, Pa., Jackson was a women’s basketball student-athlete at Richmond from 2000-04 as the Spiders played twice in the WNIT. She was a 2004 graduate of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s “So You Want To Be A Coach” program. She earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from Richmond in 2004.

Jackson and her husband, Drew, have two sons, Luke and Ben, and a daughter, Cameron.