By Maddy Cooper
Her goal? To have her name on the wall of the gymnasium.
And as a high school sophomore, Jillian Barr is already on track to have that goal accomplished.
Barr is a power forward for the girls’ varsity basketball team. While her height of 5 feet 9 inches definitely gives her an advantage, she says being left handed gives her an even bigger one.
Using her height and left-handedness, Barr is working toward conquering three all-time records.
She hopes to wind up as the school’s all-time leading rebounder, all-time leading shot blocker, and all-time leading scorer.
“She has the opportunity to be one of the best players that has ever played here,” first-year head coach Tyronda Benning said.
Currently, these records are held by 1992 graduate Chanda Stebbins with 676 rebounds, and another 1992 graduate, Niki Steveson, with 1,408 points. The record for all-time leading shot-blocker is not known right now, but Barr still hopes to set it.
As of Dec. 12, Barr is averaging 17 points per game and she has collected 204 points this season. She is also averaging 9.7 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks per game, with a total of 116 rebounds and 42 blocks.
With the help of Barr’s record season, the Lady Eagles are currently 7-6. They are also averaging 49.9 points per game.
To try to achieve these all-time records, Barr has been working harder than ever on many parts of her game, with the help of her teammates.
“So far this season, Jillian has improved so much as a leader and as a player,” her teammate Elizabeth Bamidele said.
Bamidele has been playing with Barr since sixth grade. Together, they have created a tradition of praying as a team before every game.
This new tradition has brought the team even closer together and has helped them create a championship culture within the program, Barr said.
Along with the players creating a championship culture within the team, head coach Benning has brought new ambition to the program.
“She really encourages you to push yourself and be the best player you can be,” Barr said.
Within this uplifting environment, Barr has been able to focus on different aspects of her game to improve. Some of these include working on her overall physical shape and making sure she stays strong while seeking out a basket.
This is where Barr’s height and left-handedness serves her well.
“When going up for a basket, most players will expect you to go right and try to push you left,” Barr said. “But I’m already good with my left hand.”
Additionally, Barr’s athleticism aids her game. Her athleticism was one of the reasons why playing basketball was suggested to her.
“My fifth grade teacher at West View Elementary School told me that I should give basketball a try because of my height and athleticism,” Barr said.
Noticing her peak athleticism is a common occurrence. Coach Benning has also recognized her ability. Barr has been one of the most athletic students she has ever worked with, Benning said.
“I think that’s what makes me most excited for her,” Benning said. “And for the history of the program.”