Teaching character through basketball to make lives better.
Founder, Executive Director
& Head Coach
Chris Jackson grew up playing all sports, his favorites being baseball and basketball. Jackson’s mother is a teacher and grew up learning how to work with children at a very young age. As an athlete and basketball player, Jackson always found a way to compete by leveraging whatever talent he may have had with a lot of relentless hard work. Jackson coached his first organized basketball team when he was 17 years old. As a college student, Jackson earned a full academic scholarship and studied education at the University of Arizona, where he also earned an opportunity to serve as an undergraduate assistant within the Athletic Department. Jackson worked with the athletic directors and head coaches, specifically serving alumni, academics, marketing, and men’s basketball. Later, Jackson became a graduate assistant where he worked even more closely with Arizona Athletic personnel. During this time, Jackson helped aid the Arizona Men’s Basketball staff with game day statistics and real-time game analysis. Jackson also served as a head coach at the Lute Olson Basketball camps for several years. It was during this time that Jackson also served as a head coach at Mike Krzyzewski’s Duke Basketball Camp, the Five-Star Elite Camp, and other university/college sponsored youth camps around the country. Jackson graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in education and a master’s degree in literacy. Jackson also holds a second master’s degree in Educational Leadership as well as a Superintendent’s Certificate. Recently, Jackson was named the Elementary School Distinguished Principal of the Year for all Arizona schools.
Read more about Chris Jackson
As a basketball coach, Jackson has been most heavily influenced first-hand by the teaching and philosophy of the men’s basketball staff at the University of Arizona during the Lute Olson era. It was at the UofA that Coach Jackson had a very positive working relationship with Associate Head Coach Jim Rosborough, who is one of the best leaders and people to ever have been associated with the UofA Men’s Basketball Program. Jackson also worked directly with Assistant Athletic Director, Dr. Gayle Hopkins- the first UofA national champion and olympic long jumper. Jackson also enjoyed getting to know and work around the other coaches in the UofA program. Through his work at summer camps and coaching clinics, Jackson forged a relationship with the Duke Men’s Basketball staff where he got to work and learn alongside their coaches in the early 2000s.
The philosophy and coaching strategies of John Wooden, Dean Smith, Phil Jackson, and Steve Kerr have also heavily influenced Coach Jackson’s approach to the game of basketball and sports in general. Jackson has studied these coaches extensively to become a better coach and teacher. Coach Jackson also names some significant players and teams as being fundamental in his basketball “upbringing.” These influences include Michael Jordan, the 1987-88 Arizona Wildcats team led by Steve Kerr and Sean Elliott, the Chicago Bulls teams of the 1990s, the 1992 USA “Dream Team,” the Duke Basketball program, the North Carolina Basketball program, and the recent Golden State Warriors teams led by Stephen Curry. Jackson’s favorite players growing up were Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Isiah Thomas, Steve Kerr, Sean Elliott, Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, John Stockton, and Grant Hill. Jackson also lists Jackie Robinson, Ken Griffey, Jr, Mark McGwire, Laird Hamilton, Joe Montana, John Elway, Bo Jackson, and Jerry Rice as some of his biggest athletic inspirations.
As a classroom teacher and professional educator, Jackson has served as a pre-school, middle school, and high school teacher of history, economics, government, English, and English for non-native speakers. Jackson has also coached boys and girls basketball at the middle and high school levels, having been both an assistant and head coach on championship winning teams. Jackson served as a high school varsity basketball coach at two high schools and briefly served a stint as a junior college assistant coach. Additionally, Jackson has served as a high school athletic director and
has started an entire high school athletic program from the ground up before. As a player, coach, or aid, Jackson has been part of many successful winning teams.
Jackson now holds a bachelor’s degree in education and two master’s degrees in education, including Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University. Jackson earned his degree in Educational Leadership with “distinction” (4.0 GPA). Jackson pursued a career in educational administration where he has been an administrator at three schools over the course of 10 years. After having been a high school assistant principal and principal, Jackson became a middle school assistant principal and principal, and currently he serves as an elementary school principal. Most recently, Jackson earned his K-12 Superintendent’s Certificate.
Jackson has remained in touch with the game of basketball throughout his time
as administrator and maintains close relationships with some of basketball’s best teachers, coaches, and personalities in high school, college, and the pros. Some of Jackson’s former players have gone on to earn athletic scholarships and earn opportunities to play professionally in the United States and overseas. Many of Jackson’s former players and students also have gone on using the lessons they were taught on the basketball court to succeed in non-athletic careers helping others.
In the fall of 2017, Jackson decided to finally launch his long held goal of starting an ongoing basketball instructional “school.” Part camp, part club program, part school… FireHeart Basketball School has grown in a very short time into one of the most unique and positive offerings available in youth sports. FireHeart Basketball School and it’s affiliated club teams offer opportunities to boys and girls of all skill levels. One of the things that makes FireHeart so unique is that the teaching is derived from research
backed and evidence provided teaching strategies used in highly effective classrooms. Professional educators with athletic backgrounds run every single detail of FireHeart Basketball. Scaffolding is in place to help the students new to basketball as well as to challenge and help grow the elite level advanced players that will likely earn a scholarship to college some day. Emphasis is placed upon character development, academic success, and athletic skills in equal parts. Coach Jackson wants FireHeart to be focused on everything that is wholesome and right about youth sports and to promote hard work and earned accomplishment. Above all else, the goal of FireHeart is for basketball lessons to serve as life lessons that will help players/students throughout their lives no matter what they encounter or experience.
Outside of his athletic and academic endeavors, Jackson enjoys creative writing and reading books about leadership and philosophy. Jackson is always actively training and exercising in different ways to stay healthy as well. Jackson also enjoys all kinds of music and is an equally huge fan of all-things Rocky Balboa, Star Wars, and
Superheroes (most specifically Superman). Jackson and his family also love to go to Disneyland and enjoy all things Disney. Some of the Jackson Family’s favorite sports movies include all Rocky movies, Miracle (about the 1980 US Hockey Team), Remember the Titans, Invincible, Hoosiers, The Sandlot, and 42.
Jackson is married to his wife, Elisa, and has two sons, Jaedan and Jace. Coach
Jackson is also the son of Carole and Rich Jackson who maintain and active part in Jackson family life. The Jackson family resides in Sahuarita, Arizona where they are always looking for fun, healthy, and meaningful ways to spend time together and live life to the fullest. Basketball, golf, swimming, hiking, and enjoying the beach are just some of the ways the Jackson family enjoys playing together. FireHeart is the most recent way in which they look to do so and share it with others!
what parents and players are saying
Parent & player Testimonials
“This year, our son will begin his fourth year with FireHeart Basketball. As parents, we cannot say enough good things about it. Over the years, our children have been a part of various programs and there is just no comparison as far as quality goes. It has been apparent since day one that basketball is Chris Jackson’s passion and he is genuine in his efforts to share this knowledge with the kids he is training. It has been fun to watch our son over the years as his skills have improved, along with his self-confidence. We are so thankful that our son has the opportunity to be a part of FireHeart and highly recommend it to other parents.”
“Coach Jackson coached my son, Brandon Burnett, in middle school. During that time their team won the league championship. Myself and my husband really appreciated Coach Jackson because what we saw was a coach that really was vested in the boys. Not only was he vested in the boys, Coach Jackson taught them how to work hard and provided them with life skills that Brandon could learn from and continue to use as he continued to grow into a young man. It was more than just basketball to Coach Jackson. Brandon went on to play high school basketball also Division-1 college basketball at Indiana State. Brandon has had many coaches throughout his career of basketball and the one coach that he still speaks of and has much respect for is Coach Jackson.
We as Brandon’s parents often say that it would have been nice to have a coach of Coach Jackson’s magnitude throughout his career. Coach Jackson was not just a great coach he also showed the boys values, lessons, teamwork, and taught them that hard work pays off.”
“My family moved to Arizona just over 2 1/2 years ago and I wanted to find a basketball program but all my kids were beginners. I have three kids ages 11, 10 and 7. A friend recommended FireHeart. I looked up the program and was impressed by their structure and platform. FireHeart is a program that expects its coaches to be trained and certified. Coach Chris is not only an accomplished basketball coach but also a well respected school principal.