Feb. 3, 2011
by Michael Caples, MSU Athletic Communications Student Assistant
As valedictorian of her high school, Jasmine Holmes could have chose almost any college in the country. So why would she decide on Michigan State, a university over 2,000 miles away from her home in Palmdale, Calif., that wasn't offering her a basketball scholarship?
"I always get that question, and I can never really come up with a straight answer," Holmes said. "I'm a spontaneous person, I'll just say that. I was going into pre-med, and I saw the Baylor-Michigan State game, and that kind of influenced me more towards Michigan State, but I've always wanted to go to a D-1 sports-y kind of school with a good education.
"Michigan State had a great medical school, I was into the medical field, so I looked it up on search engines, and narrowed down my options, and when we actually visited here, I fell in love with the school."
Holmes, a four-year letterwinner and a national scholar-athlete recipient in high school, thought that her basketball career could end with high school graduation. But instead of giving up, she decided to try to earn a spot on MSU's team. When she didn't make the cut her first year in East Lansing, Holmes took on the role of student manager, so she could still stay involved with the program.
"I'm not going to lie, it was kind of hard to become a manager," Holmes said. "You want to be out on the floor and stuff, but my high school coach talked me and said that if you can't be on the team, you might as well be around and stuff like that. So I was able to be a manger, it wasn't too bad. I got to meet some of the teammates and stuff, and see a different perspective of the program."
Yet while she embraced her role as a manager, Holmes kept working towards a promotion. She worked on transforming her game so she could adapt to the college style and try out again her sophomore year.
"My dream was still to try out and make the team," said Holmes. "So I worked a little harder, and through my freshman year I would play pick-up ball with the guys. I would wake up at 6:30 a.m. because that would be the only time where I would work out and work on my handles, because in high school, I was a post player."
However, the transition between coaching staffs in the summer before her sophomore year made Holmes wonder if all her hard work would ever pay off.
"When it all happened, the new coaching staff, at first they weren't going to have tryouts," Holmes said. "I guess I was kind of a pest, I kept asking them, and I'm glad they had tryouts. I just wanted them just to look at me. Even if they didn't take me, it would a chapter closed. I did all that work, went for something that I really wanted, and all you can know is that you tried."
`Being a pest' paid off for the sophomore. New coach Suzy Merchant offered her a spot on the team after Holmes survived what she called "the toughest try-outs of her life."
"I worked with the team and in a couple weeks Coach liked me and thought I meshed with the players, so I made the team," Holmes said. "It was pretty crazy, I remember the first game, just putting on the jersey, it was really just a crazy feeling. So that's how I got on the team."
A semester later, Coach Merchant gave Holmes something that probably made her parents, Dereck and Gloria, happier than Jasmine.
"I wasn't on scholarship or anything, but I was just happy to be on the team, living my dream. Then the next semester, coach blessed me with a scholarship. I didn't even see that coming, a full-ride. I've been on a full ride ever since, so it's been really cool. I've met new people, got close to all our girls, it's just been a cool experience."
When asked what her favorite memory of her time in East Lansing would be, it wasn't hard to figure out what Holmes would answer with.
"My personal memory is just showing that putting your mind to something - if you really put in the time and work - you can do it. So making the team, but just meeting the new people, and seeing the team grow from my first year to now, the different chemistries and things, it's really neat to see that. And also the Duke game; who can forget about that game? Those hardcore adrenaline-rush games, and meeting friends, and even networking and things like that. It's just the whole package, not just basketball."