Crissa ‘Ace’ Jackson: His response was “No, you’re too short and you’re a girl”

Earlier this season, former women’s college basketball player Crissa “Ace” Jackson signed a contract to play for the Harlem Globetrotters. The Harrisburg, Pennsylvania native Crissa “Ace” Jackson is the 13th female player in the 90-year history of the Globetrotters.

The 5’4 point guard played three years at Harrisburg High School in Harrisburg, Pa., before her and her family moved to Glendale, Arizona. Jackson graduated from  Mountain Ridge High School and then attended the illustrious IMG Academy, which is a training academy for athletes in various sports, attracting 12,000 athletes from approximately 80 countries.

Jackson played her first two years of college basketball at Savannah State University (GA), where she was the starting point guard both years. In her freshman year, she led the team in free throw percentage, three-pointers made and assists. She led the team in scoring and assists as a sophomore and was named to the NCAA Division I All-Independent All-American second team. The 5’4 guard then transferred to Point Loma Nazarene University for her final two seasons, leading the Sea Lions in points and assists as a junior, and in assists and steals as a senior.

We sat down to speak with her during her world tour:

BG: Hey Crissa, thank you for taking your time to talk with us. Could you tell us about your love for basketball and how you got started playing?

CJ: Well it all started when I was 7 years old. I used to always hang out with my father, while he was training my brother in basketball and one day I decided to ask my father to train me as well. His response was “No, you are too short and you are a girl.” Well, I didn’t like that response, so I threatened to tell my mother what he said. So he changed his mind and started training me. He trained me from the age of 7 all the way to college. I used to train all day, every day. I would walk around dribbling a basketball at the grocery store, in the house, everywhere. If I wasn’t playing a game in school, tournament or AAU, I was outside practicing trying to get better. My father always told me that I would never have to work if I continued to work hard, stay focused, and train. My love for the game was so strong. I was passionate and determined to be the best.

BG: How did you get your nickname “Ace”?

CJ: They call me “Ace” because I am very skilled in the game of basketball. I work very hard and strive to be first, to be number 1.

BG: After your college career ended, what were your initial plans for the future? How did you feel at the time?

CJ: After college, I planned on traveling and playing overseas. At that point in time, I was very confident that I would get recruited and I almost did. I was in the process of signing for a team in Germany, but lost the contract due to their loss of sponsors. But now I do more traveling for an even better team.

BG: How did you get in contact with the Globetrotters and get a tryout?

CJ: As a child, I would attend the camps of Chris “Handles” Franklin, a current Harlem Globetrotter, and we kept in touch as the years went by. One day I received a call from him, saying the Globetrotters were hosting a tryout and that I should attend. So, I attended the tryout of about 30 athletes, male and female. After the tryout, we had an interview. Weeks later, they gave me a call telling me I got the position.

BG: How did you feel when you got the call that you had made it?

CJ: I will never forget that day. I was in Florida at a stretching seminar when I received the call. When they said I received the position I was ecstatic. So many emotions were running through my body. I could not believe that this was happening. It was so surreal. I sat on a bench that was nearby to soak it all in. It was a life changing moment.

BG: What is the most memorable experience during your world tour so far?

CJ: A parent of a middle school child sent me a copy of his son’s homework assignment. It was a persuasive essay titled “Why Girls Can Play on a Boy Sports Team,” and I was an example in his essay. His words and points were outstanding. It really made it clear to me that I am really making a difference for these kids. I am able to show them that anything is possible.

BG: How has the Globetrotter experience made you and your game better?

CJ: Since my involvement with the Globetrotters, I have become better and much more confident on and off the floor. I have always believed in myself and knew I’d become whatever I set my mind to. But sometimes, when something so spectacular happens, such as becoming the 13th female Harlem Globetrotter, it really confirms it all.

BG: What do you tell anyone who wants to get better and reach for their dreams?

CJ: I will tell anyone to believe in themselves because anything is possible. If you want something, you must work for it and when it seems like it won’t happen, just work harder and never give up.  

“The race is not given to swift not the strong,  but to the one who endures to the end”- Ecclesiastes 9:11

Follow @crissa_ace and @unite_strength on Instagram.

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