Sometimes a fresh start is exactly what a team needs.

That’s what Prosper softball will have this season as Staci Jackson takes the helm for her first year as head coach. Her squad is also leaving District 10-5A, making for a great opportunity for the Lady Eagles to paint a new canvas.

“Small things make a big difference,” Jackson said. “That’s my philosophy.”

Jackson played college softball at Texas Tech University and has over a decade of coaching experience. Most recently, she was head coach at Hebron High School for five years. Her accomplishments include a Denton County Coach of the Year award and five straight playoff appearances from 2010-2014.

Jackson takes over the role of head coach in place of Jeni Maxton, who had been with Prosper since 2010. She also has the luxury of nine returning members from last year’s Lady Eagles, including five seniors.

Jackson said she’ll rely on her upperclassmen to help create team unity and a family-like atmosphere. That includes catcher and Texas A&M commit Abby Smith, who’s one of many girls helping make Jackson’s transition a smooth one.

“She’s really taken command,” Jackson said. “I’ve talked to her a lot about taking on a leadership role and being a captain of the team. She really gets the girls going.”

One of the team’s main goals is to make it back to the state playoff tournament. Prosper last qualified for the postseason in 2015 but lost in the first round. Before that, the Lady Eagles suffered a five-year playoff drought.

Jackson has playoff experience both as a player and as a coach. She participated in the NCAA Regionals with the Red Raiders and led Hebron all the way to the state championship game in 2010 — the same year as Prosper’s last bi-district title.

“I know what it feels like to make it all the way there and what it takes,” Jackson said. “I’m hoping to feed that into the girls and give them that positive encouragement that it can happen.”

The Lady Eagles journey will go through District 14 this season. That includes teams like The Colony and McKinney North, two of last season’s playoff qualifiers.

Jackson said she hopes her team can learn from their mistakes during the remainder of pre-season and and February before district play begins on March 7. Eliminating free bases and mental toughness are just a couple of the areas they’ll be working on the most.

Until then, the team looks to bond with one another. Jackson recently took them on a trip to Nicona, Texas, and said she hopes it will have a big impact on creating long-lasting friendships. Win or lose, she envisions a positive experience for everyone involved.

“I just try to teach them life lessons,” Jackson said. “What we do in softball is just like real life. You’ve got to learn to work with people. It’s something beyond the game.”