Jackie Turner

New Gym Name Honors Legendary Hillsboro Coach and Teacher Jackie Turner
Posted on 11/17/2023
Former players and students gather for an image in front of the newly renamed gym.

gathering at Hillsboro for renaming of gym for Jackie Turner

Valedictorian. Most Valuable Player. Teacher of the Year. And Hall of Fame coach with a still quite devoted following.

Jackie Turner yearbook photo

Jackie Turner was all of those things as a student and then a longtime teacher and coach at Hillsboro High School, which honored her Thursday by renaming the gym in Turner’s honor.

The facility, which had been named for another legendary coach, Ed Hessey, is now known as the Ed Hessey-Jackie Turner Gymnasium. Hillsboro Principal Dr. Shuler Pelham said the late Coach Hessey’s family fully embraced the change, which was first discussed about two years ago.

The event to honor Coach Turner, who died in 2005 at the age of 74, brought out dozens of her former players and students as well as many other admirers from across the decades. They recalled her soft-spoken but all-business approach to teaching, learning, playing, competing, and winning.

Which she – and they – did quite often.

Over 24 years, Turner’s Burros basketball teams won six Nashville Interscholastic League championships, 10 district championships, and five regional championships while making six state tournament appearances. Her volleyball teams also went to four state tournaments, while she led the tennis and track and field teams to state championships in 1968 and 1973, respectively.

Throughout her career, Turner worked to expand athletic opportunities for women.

Memorial plaque

“She is a legend,” said Jinx Demetros Cockerham, a member of Hillsboro’s Class of 1966 who followed Turner into coaching. “She coached in such a quiet, sophisticated way, but yet she never hesitated to let you know when she expected more from you.”

Turner also had a big impact in the classroom at Hillsboro, where she taught chemistry for 31 years.

“She not only taught chemistry, but she taught how to study,” said Dr. Ann Hutcheson Price, a 1968 Hillsboro graduate and physician who recently retired as associate dean for alumni affairs at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

“She loved learning, and she wanted us to love to learn. And she wanted us to learn effectively and efficiently. In her world view, there was absolutely no time to waste – none – whether you were on the court or in the classroom.”

Turner graduated from Hillsboro as the valedictorian in 1948, returned in 1956, and taught there until 1987. She was MNPS’s Teacher of the Year in 1980.

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