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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Junior high jumper has traveled long road to success

Gordon+Bates+%2F+Arizona+Daily+Wildcat%0ABridgetta+Barrett%2C+UA+high+jump+junior%2C+does+strength+training+at+Drachman+Stadium+this+Monday+Jan+30.
Gordon Bates / Daily Wildcat
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat Bridgetta Barrett, UA high jump junior, does strength training at Drachman Stadium this Monday Jan 30.

Junior high-jumper Brigetta Barrett didn’t always have something to smile about. Growing up in New York as the middle child of three in a single-parent home, Barrett realized she couldn’t stay there forever.

“Growing up, I loved to play outside and was always very active,” Barrett said. “But as I got older I just felt like New York just wasn’t for me. I had to get out.”

Struggling with symptoms of depression and coming to the realization that paying for college was not within her family’s budget, Barrett wanted to find another way of earning a college education.

“I always made sure to excel in everything I did,” she said. “I figured if I could be good enough at more than one area I would have a better shot. I would always pray and think you know ‘God, I know you have a plan for me and you want great things from me,’ but I felt like things were falling apart.”

After a brief introduction to high jumping while attempting other sports at her high school in New York, Barrett decided the track event could be her ticket to college. While competing at the Armory one day in Manhattan, Barrett was captivated by a photograph of a female high jumper with impeccable form.

Barrett said a stranger caught her looking at the picture and told her: “Don’t worry, you’ll get there. I’ve been watching you and you’re going to be one of the greats,” and that’s a moment that has stayed with her as motivation.

“At that moment, I realized I wanted to be just like her,” Barrett said.

Her sophomore year in high school, Barrett convinced her mother to allow her to move to Texas under the impression that she would have a better chance at getting recruited. In reality, Barrett was battling ongoing sadness and decided to make a change and move in with cousins she barely knew at the time.

“Moving to Texas was one of the best decisions I ever made,” Barrett said. “But in the beginning I would hide in hallways and just cry. I would skip class because I didn’t want anyone to see me upset.”

Barrett initially got involved in the Duncanville High School track and field team as a sprinter. A former high jump coach suggested she push the school to build a jumping pit for her on the school grounds. Barrett soon became the only high jumper at her high school and immediately gained the attention of college coaches.

“I didn’t know anything about recruitment at the time,” she said. “But after my coaches sat me down and taught me everything, Arizona met all my non-negotiables.”

Barrett topped off her high school career with two state championship wins in a row, and then prepared to transition to college life in Arizona. Now, the impact she’s had on her Arizona teammates rivals the impact she’s had during meets.

“She is an amazing person,” teammate Julie Labonté said. “When you talk to her, she makes you feel special. She’s a great motivator.”

As one of the most decorated athletes on the roster, Barrett said she feels she is more prepared than ever to tackle all her aspirations. She is currently a theater arts major and hopes to become a playwright and break into the modeling world, along with achieving her ultimate dream of becoming an Olympian, which she’ll pursue this summer.

“As young as she is to already have achieved the things she has is fantastic,” track and field head coach Fred Harvey said. “She’s already a world champion. And the thing about her is that she cares. Whatever it takes, she really truly cares.”

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