Jasmine Barker had to travel a long distance to get to Western Oklahoma State College from Westlake, La. but she made the move to follow her dreams.
Her dreams became a reality thanks to Coach Eddie Broughton and it all came to fruition thanks to the many hours of hard work Barker put in each day, even when her basketball goal was nothing more than a makeshift rim.
Barker’s drive and determination to succeed came at a young age but the journey to a college basketball court was anything but easy for the young Westlake standout.
“I’ve always had a passion for basketball, ever since I was younger and before we got a basketball goal. My mom and grandmother would cut the bottom out of a milk crate and nail it up to the side of the house and I would shoot with that,” Barker said. “When I got into the sixth grade and I didn’t make the team, I was so devastated that I cried for a week but then I tried out for recreational basketball and I’ve loved it ever since.”
Part of the reason for Barker’s love for the sport came because of the freedom she feels when she steps onto the hardwood.
The court has become a place where she feel she can shed all of her problems and work out her stress by outsmarting and outplaying her opponents.
“This game means the world to me. It’s my second home and wen I’m playing, it feels like all of my worries and problems go away,” Barker said.
All of those problems seem exceptionally small when Barker is on the court. She has made a habit out of taking her frustrations out on those who try to stop her as she drives through the lane and to the basket.
It is one of the things she has excelled at throughout her career and now she brings those same talents to Western where she hopes to make an immediate impact on the court.
“I feel like I am bringing energy to the team on the court. When I get into the game, I’m very motivating. What makes me unique is that I can play multiple roles,” Barker said. “I can play outside but also if I get the chance, I could play inside. I’m a team player. There’s no ‘I’ in team. I don’t care what happens, as long as we play as a team, that’s what will make me happy.”
Barker is excited with the amount of potential this team has shown so far in their time together and knows they can take it even further as long as everything comes together for them once they step onto the court.
“My expectations are for us to go far and I feel like we could win it all. We have so much potential on this team and so many people who care and have heart for the team that I know we will do well this year,” Barker said. “They courage you when you do bad and when you do well. I absolutely love my girls. Right from the beginning, we connected and I feel like we will do an awesome job this year. From the time we had open gym, we were laughing and joking. We had started a group chat before I actually moved here and we have basically talked everyday since.”
Aside from being driven to do well by her teammates, Barker is also driven for personal reasons and it all stemmed from her time spent in Westlake.
She had a support staff most players dream of and knew that no matter what, her teammates and coaches would always be standing by at the ready to encourage and motivate her until she was back to playing.
“Really, in middle school I wanted to do it for me because I loved it so much. As I got into high school, it was more like this is what I want to do from now on and so I have to make a name for myself since I came from a small school,” Barker said. “With the help and support of my high school coaches Gloria Fontenot and Edward Garriet, I was pushed and challenged to my full potential because they knew what type of player I was. I just had it in my head that I have the potential to play college ball.”
Now that Barker has moved on from high school, she has found in Broughton another coach who will do everything he can to help Barker and his other players succeed.
Broughton has designed workouts that push his players to be the absolute best versions of themselves and it is one of the many things his players have come to admire most about him.
“So far, he is pushing us to our best potential. He’s trying to see who will be able to stay strong through conditioning,” Barker said. “In the fourth quarter of the game, we will find out who is the strongest and who can finish strong.”
Right now, Barker is thinking about her past and her future and how it has all come together to put her in the position that she is currently in to live out her dream playing college basketball.
“Sometimes it feels like a dream but I wake up everyday and I’m living my dream,” Barker said. “It feels so great to be playing on this level when I never thought it was possible.”
Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.