Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

A Natural Leader

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

A Natural Leader

Article excerpt

West Virginia University's support of student-athletes helped propel Jessica Harlee to role model status.

Confident, determined and smart, Jessica Nicole Harlee pushes herself on and off the basketball court. A junior at West Virginia University, Harlee embodies the gentle spirit of Arthur Ashe as a calm leader with impeccable focus on her studies and helping her team to victory.

"She has done a great job," Women's Basketball Head Coach Mike Carey says about Harlee, who plays forward and guard. "She brings a lot of energy, great leadership and work ethic. Whatever she does, she does it 110 percent. I'm not surprised that she would win the Arthur Ashe award."

Carey recruited her from Fallston High School in Maryland, where Harlee maintained a 3.9 GPA and was a four-time all-county, two-time all-metro, and 2009 Baltimore Sun All-Metro first team selection.

"Everyone who sees her is amazed by her defense," says Stephanie White, assistant director of student-athlete academic services. "She has one focus. She sees the ball and will do whatever she has to do to get it. It's crazy to see the determination in her eyes wherever the ball is. It's fun to watch."

During her time at West Virginia University during 2011-2012, Harlee led WVU with 65 steals and recorded a career-best seven steals, helping WVU to 27 team steals against North Carolina Central, the most team steals in a single game under Carey. Harlee played in all 34 games, earning 32 starts and averaging 26.6 minutes per game, the second most on the team. She recorded the third most team assists with 67, and averaged 5.1 points per game and 5.4 rebounds per game. She is currently recovering from an injury.

Harlee has also risen to the top as a leader. "She was co-captain in her sophomore year - and that just doesn't happen," White says. "It tells a lot about her leadership. She is also co-captain this year."

White says she has grown to depend upon Harlee, who helps her schedule open gym time and keeps her posted on the team's arrival from away games. "She's there if the team needs something. We depend on her," White says. "It's nice to have her. Some of the girls look up to her on how motivated she is. She reminds them that they are not only here to play basketball, but to get a degree."

Harlee practices what she preaches by maintaining a 3.9 GPA in industrial engineering, studying and doing everything she can to help the team win. …

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