When Teaneck High School senior Jakelle King-Gilchrist sets her eyes on a goal, there’s no stopping her.
The shooting guard for the Highwaywomen girls' basketball team said figuring out her goals and then doing all she can to achieve them has helped her to get where she’s at in life right now. She also credits the strong bond she has with her family and teammates as the reason behind her success.
On Friday, King-Gilchrist participated in a brief ceremony at THS that announced her verbal commitment to play at Florida State University next year. FSU Women’s Basketball Head Coach Sue Semrau and Assistant Coach Angie Johnson flew up to meet the young basketball standout face-to-face for the first time.
“It was such a great day,” King-Gilchrist said. “Having the coaches there made the day so exciting. I love the coaches.”
Hurricane Irene’s arrival late last month cancelled King-Gilchrist’s initial plans to tour the campus. She said she hopes to make a visit to the university sometime next month.
‘I FEEL LIKE I’VE ACCOMPLISHED A LOT’
From as long as she can remember, King-Gilchrist said she’s loved basketball.
“I got interested in basketball pretty much when I started walking,” she said. “My brothers (Keenan, 27, and Javae, 20) have played basketball for a very long time. And I’ve been to all their games, all their practices, to their personal workouts, and I’ve just picked up after my brothers. We played together all the time.”
Now enjoying her last year in high school, King-Gilchrist said she’s satisfied with how she’s spent her time in school.
“I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot,” she said. “I’ve accomplished all the goals I’ve wanted to, and I’m just glad that I’m being successful with everything I do.”
She also said she’s grateful for all the support she's received at THS.
“Some of my teachers, the administration and the staff in the school have helped me throughout my high school experience, so I’m always going to remember them and miss that,” King-Gilchrist said. “I’ll also miss my team. We have a relationship that I don’t think any other team has. We love each other so much, and we’ll always keep in contact with each other – that’s just the bond of our team.”
King-Gilchrist said she even appreciated all the tough-love shown to her by THS Girls' Basketball Head Coach Shenee Clarke.
“She always makes sure I remember where my head is at,” said King-Gilchrist. “She keeps me on track, and she’s always riding me because she wants to see me do well, and I appreciate that.”
King-Gilchrist’s mother, Tracey King, said her daughter had scholarship offers from 15 colleges, including Yale, Princeton, Brown, Georgetown and the University of Rhode Island.
“She sets a goal, and she gets what she wants,” King said. “She’s a good student, never gives me any trouble, and she’s very family-oriented. She’s just a great person – beautiful inside and out.”
Come next fall when King-Gilchrist heads to college, she said she’ll miss her mother a lot. But the 17-year-old said she realizes that leaving home is necessary in order for her to achieve even more goals in life.
“I’m looking forward to the experience of college, and I want to see how I mature later in my years,” King-Gilchrist said. “I’m looking forward to being successful, and I’m looking forward to my major. I’m really looking forward to everything.”
JAKELLE KING-GILCHRIST’S STATS:
Position: Shooting guard
Favorite Subject: World literature
College Major: Sports Medicine
Advice for Other Students: “Always follow your dreams and know there’s always a way to make it. As long as you keep your head in whatever it is you do and never give up, you’ll find your way.”
Words of Thanks: “I really couldn’t have done any of this without my family. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without them. They play a big role in the decisions that I’ve made in my life. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be Jakelle King-Gilchrist."