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Jackson gradually grows into leader's role


Former Laney standout Shatara Jackson leads Elizabeth City State in points and minutes during her senior season in women's basketball. (Photo by courtesy ECSU/Robert Adylett, BS2 Photography)


Teammates often look to upperclassmen for guidance, confidence and strength. However, speaking up or taking the lead was never Shatara Jackson's forte.

Early in her basketball career, the former Laney High School standout evaded the role and responsibilities that come with being a team leader. A high school coach instructed her to write a letter to herself. That exercise would awake a sleeping leader.

"In high school, I had to write a paper about my body language," said Jackson, who describes herself as shy and kind of laid back on and off the court. "On one page, I had to explain what I thought I was doing or not doing, and how I was acting."

She later added: "I realized that I wasn't helping my team. I worked to improve it in basketball and my life outside of basketball."

Off the court, Jackson struggled to make the grades in high school, restricting her chances of playing in college. Determined to get back on track, she enrolled in Louisburg College, to rehabilitate her grades and continue to develop as a basketball player.

"I accepted it because it was a second chance," said Jackson. "I had to earn where I wanted to be. It was the right situation. I did what I had to do to get to Elizabeth City."

Jackson did just that. After one year at Louisburg, Jackson made the grades necessary to play collegiately at Division II Elizabeth City State.

"I've grown as a person," said Jackson. "Everything from improving my body language and becoming a leader on and off the court, to getting my work done in the classroom."

On the court, Jackson had to learn how to play and continue her personal development and communication.

"We've learned how to play as a team," Jackson said of her Vikings teammates. "Bonding on the court and off the court and having to play as a team. Believing in one another, playing for each other and playing within the system."

Now a senior, the once-shy player is leading the Vikings through the CIAA to an 18-3 record. Jackson leads the team in minutes played per game (29.1) and points per game (13).

After a 96-86 win over nationally ranked Shaw – and a career-best 29 points, seven assists and three blocks – Jackson was named CIAA Player of the Week earlier this season. She was also named the MVP of the Chick-fil-a/Lady Viking Tip-off Classic.

The all-conference performer has excelled on the court, and her newfound ability to lead and communicate effectively is indicative of the all-around impact she has had on her team.

"I've become a leader," said Jackson. "I step up when I need to. I try being a positive person on and off the court. I feel if you do the right things off the court it'll follow you wherever else you go."