After five years in Columbia, South Carolina, Ashley Jackson is beginning a new chapter in her young but impressive career. This past summer, Jackson was hired as an assistant director, strategic communications and a sports information director in Boston University’s Athletic Department.
Growing up in northern New Jersey, Jackson, the only woman SID at BU, has been a sports fan for as long as she can remember.
“I literally have Rangers jerseys since I was a [size] 2T,” Jackson said. “That’s been a very constant in my life.”
The former high school tennis, track and cross country athlete wanted to expand her horizons when it came to the college experience.
“I definitely wanted to be out of New Jersey,” Jackson said. “That was one of the big things that my parents even said,‘You don’t need to go to school in-state. There are so many other places across the country that you can go.’”
One of her friends had recommended the University of South Carolina. Jackson applied and was accepted, eventually deciding that the large Southeastern Conference school was the right fit for her.
While Jackson originally entered college as a business student, she eventually switched to public relations. By her junior year, she was taking sports-focused communications classes.
In the fall of her senior year, she became a student assistant in South Carolina’s athletic communications department. The bulk of her role was sorting photos after football games for the historical archives. Come springtime, the department needed help with men’s tennis.
The staffer responsible for men’s tennis was Diana Koval, who also covered the nationally competitive women’s basketball team. Due to the high demand with women’s basketball, Koval was often busy, giving Jackson the opportunity to serve as a “pseudo-SID.”
After graduating, Jackson returned to New Jersey when she saw an opening back at South Carolina’s athletic department. After applying and getting the job, she was responsible for women’s tennis and the equestrian team.
Right after starting, Jackson was responsible for the media coverage of an emerging star in collegiate tennis. South Carolina’s Sarah Hamner won a national championship last October.
“There’s a lot that goes into making sure you’re getting the right coverage and hyping up their national championship,” Jackson said. “It was nuts.”
With a family friend who attended BU, as well as a love for the city of Boston, Jackson thought she would be the right fit when a job in the BU athletics department opened up.
“I saw the position opened up at BU, and I was like this would be absolutely perfect and this would be a way that I could get up to Boston,” Jackson said. “I was fortunate enough that they decided to offer me the position and I was like, ‘absolutely I will be there as soon as I can.’”
In her new role, Jackson is the primary contact for men’s and women’s cross country and track & field, women’s lacrosse and women’s tennis. She also serves as the secondary contact for women’s hockey, working under the Associate Athletic Director for Communications and Brand Services Brian Kelley.
Currently, Jackson is the only woman Sports Information Director on staff. The other Assistant Director for Strategic Communications, Connor Giblin, recognized the importance of Jackson adding representation to women’s athletics.
“We are admittedly in a field that is very male-dominated,” Giblin said. “Anytime you are working with someone you can relate to a little bit more or also even knows how your sport may be covered differently compared to other sports, or compared to the other gender counterpart of your sport, I think that’s always a huge plus.”
Despite hockey being a life-long love of Jackson’s, she did not have the ability to cover it at the University of South Carolina. Covering hockey at BU has been the most exciting part of her job so far, she said. She will travel with the team to Las Vegas, Nevada for their tournament on Thanksgiving weekend and is looking forward to experiencing her first Beanpot.
“It’s been my dream to work in hockey,” Jackson said. “So getting to do this right off the bat, the second full year in my career, it takes me a second sometimes to even process that it’s still real.”
Her young but impressive career is an inspiration to students at BU, especially female students in sports journalism, like Stevie Potter, a sophomore in the College of Communication and a hockey reporter for WTBU.
“Women in sports, as much as we may love what we do, it is scary knowing that when you graduate, you might not have the opportunities that you really wanted, have worked so hard for,” Potter said. “But to see someone else doing it, not only does it give you someone to look up to or maybe ask questions to, but it just gives you hope and makes you more excited for your own future.”
While Jackson is focused on fulfilling her role on Babcock Street, she isn’t quite sure what she wants to do long-term. However, don’t be surprised if you see her in an NHL press box one day.