The Journey Of Gloria Jeter

Gloria Jeter.2jpgThe story I bring to you this issue, is about an “Amazing Young Lady”; who at times can easily be “Misunderstood”.. To the point that you could have missed the greatness & uniqueness, of this young lady; who cares about others more than she’s willing to admit to you..

I was blessed to meet Miss Gloria Jeter, in the Spring of 2009; during a AAU Basketball Tournament at Purdue Calumet  University in Hammond Indiana. She was a outspoken young lady (not disrespectful  at all), but you knew that she wasn’t a young lady you was just going to say anything to; she’s very opinionated..

I must admit I wasn’t use to meeting a young lady of her age, that was that opinionated about subjects beyond her years (she was a 10th grader at the time). I must honestly say I wasn’t ready for her outspokenness, that she displayed; but her honesty & conviction about certain subjects were interesting / refreshing..

Knowing about “Alpha” personalities myself (because I am one), we clashed during some conversations at times; but she always made her point very clear. I know then this young lady was highly intelligent, but rough around the edges; because of her immediate surroundings.

Gloria growing up in the heart of Gary Indiana, she learned a long time ago; any signs of weakness wasn’t a good thing in her neighborhood. She has been known to take on boys, if they “stepped to her wrong, or if they said anything disrespectful”; she earned her respect as the inner city kids would say…

I would see her later again during the season, playing for her Gary Westside HS girls team; during the Spring & Summer at girls tournaments.. I first saw the compassionate side of Gloria, as a teammate was lost in a game due to injury. She “stay with her fallen teammate”, to let her know she cared; & they are going to win this game for her.. She held a huddle with the rest of teammates, she gave a speech that would have made “Phil Jackson” proud.

When the game was over (The Westside Cougars won), she went over to her hurt teammate & hugged her. This young lady “Will” her team to victory, & her rebounding during the game was outstanding; for a young lady who actually started playing organized basketball late in life (due to other activities like modeling)..

Gloria Jeter cares about things that most young people her age really don’t, and take for granted; like family time & other people in the world.. She was raised by a single mother (Yolanda), who believes in discipline & being educated. Yolanda who as a single mom knew what her children would be up against, especially here in the Midwest; during these rough economic times.. Yolanda is very close with her only daughter, and Gloria brothers are very protective of their only sister…

The following year (2010) during my  organization’s open tryouts / screening period, for my “Youth Basketball Club / Mentoring Program”; Gloria walked through the door into the gym. She gave me a look like to say “oh no not him again”, she didn’t realize that I was more than the coach; I was the Founder & President of this organization / team..

Gloria made the team mainly due to her ability to follow instructions, & her “toughness”;  that she obviously learned from the streets.. I noticed early into our practices, that nobody rebounds like Gloria Jeter. The nickname I gave her was “Lady Windex”, because she’ll be all over the glass with the best of them; with her 5′ 10″ frame battling against much taller girls during our season..

As we got to the know her, we realized she has an old soul, yes she like her modern day music; but she’ll breakout in the Temptation’s “My Girl” in a drop of a hat; and a few other old songs. Gloria’s  roommates on our road trips knew early, that if they shared a room with her in the hotel; lights out around 9pm; not at 2am. She was “Mama Gloria”  on the road, she understood early in life about following rules & regulations.; She believed in getting a good nights sleep. Gloria lead her team that season to the #6 ranking, at the Girls AAU 19U Open Division National Championship; in Orlando Florida (Disney World’s ESPN Sports Complex). She plays with so much intensity, it would be “scarey”; but she loved the game & her teammates. Gloria loved her on court family (team), almost as much as her off court family; both were very important to her.. The modeling to Gloria was no longer that important to her, her two families were her main focus (she never walked a runway again); basketball & getting educated now was her life..

Gloria’s mother never push her children towards anything, that they didn’t want to do; but she believed in supporting her children dreams.. Gloria was already an excellent student in the classroom, which made “Mama Yolanda” very proud..

The more you got to know Gloria, the more you loved Gloria; you can see beyond her tough outside exterior. Gloria made a choice to go to a Community College, because she wanted to play  basketball & improve on the court: & the bigger schools passed her by.. Her grades would have gotten her into most school across the country, but her love for the game outweigh going to a larger school without playing..

This drove her to excel that much more on the court, to where her freshmen year at Lake Michigan Community College; she lead them to the NJCAA National Championship Game. She was also pictured on the cover, of the 2011-2012 NJCAA National Tournament media guide / booklet; as a true freshmen.. Her team fell short that day (like by 5 points), to powerhouse Monroe Community College out of the Bronx in New York City.. Gloria played her heart out, in the NJCAA Title game; but learned so much more from the narrow lost… Winning the National Championship Runner Up bracelet, & the #2 ranking, is a moment she’s very proud of; and it proved to her about that saying “hard work does pay off”…

Gloria’s strong work ethics helped her achieve all conference honors, her sophomore year at Lake Michigan Community College; which made some bigger school finally take notice of her..

Gloria Jeter accepted a full basketball scholarship, to attend Martin Methodist College in Pulaski Tennessee; an NAIA College about 90 minutes away from Knoxville Tennessee.

Today as she’s completing her Junior year in college, she comes back to her community; to speak & mentor to the younger girls about life & college. She has never turned down a request to give back, & share her story with others. She didn’t let her rough beginnings define her future, she learned how to embrace it; & use it to motivate her.. She’s majoring in Sports Management, & hope to own a business one day; she’s working on her business model as we speak..

I always like teaching life lessons through sports, like if you’re down by 20 points at half-time; or life knocks you down…. Don’t ever quit, get up & get back into the game; especially the game call “Life”… Gloria Jeter is putting Corporate America on notice, because when she gets her college degree; she’s coming to kick in a few doors.. “I’ve never been a loser, & I’m not starting now coach”; is what she stated to me..

Never judge a book by it’s cover, if you open up that same book: you’ll be surprise on what you may find inside (a unfinished Pearl)..

I’m glad I personally opened up the “Gloria Jeter Book”, and got to know her; or I would have missed her “Uniqueness” that most folks didn’t even know she had… We are so proud of you Miss Gloria Jeter, continue to live your purpose & your promise; I’m sure the world will be hearing from you real soon…

Stay blessed & Encouraged people, always give humanity a chance..

Coach Tony Branch

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