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Kerrick Jackson gets emotional talking impact on Memphis baseball

Jackson was formally introduced as the first Black head coach in Memphis Tigers baseball history.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Kerrick Jackson made his first appearance as head coach of the University of Memphis baseball program. It's a historic appearance as he becomes the first Black head coach in program history. 

What cannot be understated though is the impact he could have on the city, not just the program. 

As Jackson donned the Memphis Tigers uniform for the first time, the new skipper made his intentions clear.

"As a division one coach and as a division one program, the goal is Omaha. Period. Point blank," Jackson said.

Jackson already took one team to the NCAA tournament flipping Southern University from a 9 win team to a 32 win heavy hitter in the SWAC. On top of being the first Black head coach for Memphis, he's also now one of three Black head coaches at the DI level, not at an HBCU.

The moment it sunk in was an emotional one for Jackson.

"The fact that we're in 2022 and we're talking about firsts and I am that first, It means a lot. I plan to do everything in my power to make sure that we stop talking about firsts," he said through tears on the podium.

Jackson also comes to Memphis having been president of the MLB Draft League, a summer baseball league aimed at discovering undervalued talent. He plans to discover the talent that's here in the 901 and build a wall around it.

"Those kids that are quality players, they want to stay if they have a reason to stay and we're going to give them a reason to stay. We won't be dissuaded by 'this guy is Power 5 or SEC'. I'm not afraid to be told no," Jackson said.

The new head coach already has a fan. 12-year old Justin Barham was in the crowd listening to Jackson with his mom, Shonterria.

"I felt like I wanted to ask him about the camps, so I could have more opportunities as an African-American boy so I can be on that stage one day," Barham said.

That's exactly what Jackson wants to hear.

"Not everybody in the community is gonna play baseball, but if we can attract them to what it is we're doing and now all of a sudden we create a whole new level of collegiate students," he said. "As they come to the games and been to camps and they enjoy the environment so that's ultimately what I want to be able to do."

Expect more followers to come. Memphis Little League president Kerry Cobb said what Jackson is preaching only reinforces what he teaches his own players.

"He can tell you, 'Well, look, I've been down that path before. I understand, just keep working hard and it will pay off.' It paid off today by you seeing the University of Memphis hiring the first African-American coach," Cobb said.

Jackson said he plans to make Memphis a Top 50 program in the country.

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