Aaron Jackson first started coaching girls fastpitch softball more than 10 years ago when his younger sister, Sarah, began playing in the Helena ASA 12U league.
Since then, he has served three years as Missoula Sentinel’s junior varsity coach and assistant varsity coach; was the assistant coach at MSU Billings for four years; and, from 2011-2013, worked as Eastern Oregon University’s coach.
He also returned to the Capital City every summer to coach sister Sarah’s ASA teams each level up to 18U.
Now, Jackson is applying for the coaching job at Carroll College, where softball will be played on the Hilltop for the first time next year.
“I started out coaching different sports, but when my little sister started playing softball I found the sport I loved,” he said at Carroll’s forum in Trinity Hall on Wednesday.
A 2002 Helena High graduate — where he competed in football and track — Jackson said, “I’m a Bengal, and if there are any Bruins in the room, hopefully we can become Saints together.”
One of the initial topics Jackson discussed was the exciting prospect of building a new college program.
“I would start right here on campus; I know there are plenty of student-athletes here at Carroll that want to play softball. There’s no doubt in my mind,” he said. “The next step in recruiting would be to tour Montana’s high schools, and then branch out to the surrounding states and use the resources I’ve developed over the past several years.”
Jackson said he would build his program with academics being the No. 1 priority.
“Plus they have to be a good person, and someone with ability and confidence that is respectful of their teammates, coaches and parents. Someone that’s willing to work hard,” he explained. “I can learn more about them walking from the field to their car.
“I use the ‘It Factor’ in recruiting. it’s a myriad of things … There’s something about a player, I just know ‘It’ when I see it.”
Jackson described how Eastern Oregon is a member of the highly competitive Cascade Collegiate Conference and currently has four of its eight teams ranked in the top 35 in the country. He posted a 36-82 during his three seasons at the helm of the Lady Mountaineers.
One of his best players just in LaGrande was his third baseman — and sister — Sarah Jackson.
“During my time at Eastern Oregon, I took a program that struggled to compete in the CCC and made it into a program where every week teams had to prepare to play us,” said Jackson, who also served as the assistant director of EOU’s game day operation.
“Each year we made great strides and consistently increased our win total from the previous seasons.”
He said that during his final two years, his teams captured seven victories over Top 25 teams.
Jackson holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Montana in health and human performance. He has also completed his coursework for a master of science in sports, recreation, and fitness management from MSUB.
One of the questions he answered Wednesday had to do with his coaching style during games.
“I’m usually kind of quiet when play starts and do more talking as the game goes on,” he said.
“As for arguing with the umpires, I’ve only been thrown out of one game in my career, and that was during ASA 14U when I was trying to pull another coach away from the ump and I was the one that got tossed.”
When asked his philosophy on coaching women, he answered simply, “I treat them like I treat my sister.”