LEBANON —McKendree University director of athletics Chuck Brueggemann announced on Tuesday that Edwardsville native Danny Jackson has been hired as the new head coach for the Bearcats’ baseball program.
Jackson has spent the last six seasons on the staff at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, where he served as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator before being elevated to the role of interim head coach last month for the Cougars.
“We are excited that Coach Jackson has accepted the position of head baseball coach at McKendree University,” said Brueggemann. “We feel that he has many intangibles that will enable our program to continue to grow in the Great Lakes Valley Conference and NCAA Division II. Danny had an outstanding playing career both at the high school and collegiate level, but more importantly he was able to learn the game from some legendary coaches. That lineage has been invaluable while shaping the beginning of his own coaching career. His experience as a recruiting coordinator at the Division I level has made Danny keenly aware of the rich baseball talent not only in the surrounding area, but throughout the Midwest region. Along with all those qualities, Danny brings a fire and passion into the dugout that energizes those around him. We cannot wait to see what the future holds for McKendree baseball with Danny at the reins.”
In his role at SIUE, Jackson has coached third base while also serving as the Cougars’ hitting coach. Under his tutelage in 2015, SIUE batted .302 in Ohio Valley Conference play, which ranked fifth in the league. The Cougars also ranked in the top half of the final conference statistical report in home runs (42), doubles (72) and total bases (538).
Over his six seasons, Jackson has coached four OVC All-Freshman team honorees along with a pair of Louisville Slugger Freshmen All-America selections.
“I would like to thank Chuck Brueggemann for this opportunity. I couldn’t be more excited to have a chance to lead the McKendree baseball program,” Jackson said. “It’s a beautiful university that offers a fantastic education, and the athletics department is certainly on the rise as well. There is great support from the administration on down, so we believe we will have the support as we build a championship program. It’s going to be a lot of work — the Great Lakes Valley Conference is a great and very competitive conference — but I feel like we will put in the kind of work we will have to in order to get to the top (of the standings). We want to win that conference championship.”
Before his arrival at SIUE, Jackson spent three years on the coaching staff at Saint Louis University. Jackson coached first base for the Billikens and worked with the team’s hitters, outfielders and corner infielders. He planned and organized team travel while also coordinating summer tournaments and baseball camps. Jackson helped SLU to 88 victories during that span, including an Atlantic 10 championship in 2010 and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
In the summer of 2007, Jackson was the hitting coach and first base coach for the El Dorado Broncos of the Jayhawk Baseball Collegiate Summer League, and helped guide the squad to a fourth-place finish at the NBC National baseball Tournament.
Jackson moved into the coaching ranks following a stellar four-year playing career at Wichita State University. Playing for Hall of Fame coach Gene Stephenson, Jackson was a pitcher and first baseman for the Shockers. He was a four-year letterman at Wichita State and helped the program to four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances during that span.
In his four seasons at Wichita State, Jackson collected several individual honors. He was named the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Most Outstanding Player following the Shockers’ run to the league’s post-season title in 2005. Jackson was also named the Most Improved Player at Wichita State in 2006 and garnered honorable mention All-MVC honors as a designated hitter in 2007.
Jackson enjoyed a memorable playing career at Edwardsville High School. He is still the all-time leader in home runs, walks, and runs batted in at Edwardsville.
“We are going to play the game hard, and we’re going to play it the right way,” he said. “We will come out in attack mode both at the plate and on the mound. I feel that a fast-paced game puts pressure on defenses. That’s how you win games. You make them make mistakes, you make them handle the ball and it puts pressure on them. That’s our plan by playing that fast-paced style. We will have to learn to trust each other in playing this style of baseball, and we will use the fall to build that trust as our players get to know the coaches and what we are trying to accomplish on the baseball field.”
Jackson and his wife, Jenny, have one son, Sawyer. The Jacksons reside in Edwardsville.
The McKendree University baseball team closed the 2016 season with an overall record of 15-34. The Bearcats were 7-21 in Great Lakes Valley Conference play.