Jazmine Alderman ‘19 is Farragut’s first female grad heading to West Point
Jazmine Alderman wasn’t always interested in running.
From early childhood, her passion was gymnastics, and she aimed high. “My goal was the Olympics,” she said.
But by eighth grade, Alderman realized she was already peaking at gymnastics. To stick with the sport, she’d have to keep repeating levels until her senior year. She just had to find something different. But what?
The answer came almost by fluke, in the middle of her eighth-grade year. That’s when she enrolled at Farragut and decided, in her words, “to try out track for a week, and I liked it.”
Track seemed to like her back. By the time she graduated in May 2019, Alderman was one of the school’s most accomplished female track athletes — and West Point wanted her.
Today, Alderman is attending the United States Military Academy Prep School, also known as West Point Prep, where she has signed to run track. In 2020, she’ll be doing the same for West Point.
Though disappointed that she’d have to spend a year at West Point Prep, “when I thought about it, I understood how it would prepare me for my plebe year as a freshman,” Alderman said, explaining that she was only 17 when she graduated from Farragut.
“She was always the youngest in everything,” said her mother Marquerita Alderman.
Whatever her age, Alderman’s appointment is historic. She’s Farragut’s first female selected for West Point and the school’s first African-American student — female or male — to receive an athletic scholarship to the military academy.
“At first I didn’t know it was this big of a deal. I didn’t want anyone to know,” she said, adding that once she grasped the significance “it made me want to go there more, to live up to the title and that any female can do it.”
She’ll be entering an institution that in 2019 graduated its largest groups of both African-American and Hispanic women in the military academy’s history, West Point spokesman Frank Demaro told CNN in May.
Record-breaking track career
Making history seems to be in Alderman’s DNA.
When she was new to Farragut and just 13, she contributed to a state championship win for the girls track and field team. It was the first time any Tampa Bay area girls program had won a state title in 20 years — made all the sweeter because Farragut went into it as an underdog.
“Coach (Phil) Barnhill was so shocked at how I wasn’t afraid to race the older girls,” said Alderman, who ran the 100-meter and 200-meter at the state championship. “I’d be in eighth grade, racing the girls in 11th and 12th grade.”
She also credits some of her success to then-senior Brittany McGee ‘15, who captured four first-place titles in that 2015 state meet (at the time, McGee was only the seventh female in Florida to do so).
McGee “was so encouraging throughout the season and really helped me learn how to run,” Alderman said. “Just watching her at practice motivated all of us. She is such a professional in the way she goes about doing things. She taught me how to become a better runner and how to prepare.”
The admiration is mutual. McGee, now in her final year studying biological engineering at Stanford University, said she’s always been impressed by Alderman’s blend of humility, talent, and discipline.
“To see her represent our country in doing something that we both love is amazing to see,” McGee said, adding that Farragut nurtured success in both of them.
“I hope it shows the current students that probably don’t even know who I am, that with Farragut any opportunity awaits,” McGee said. “You will get out of it what you give. That is one of the most important things I learned at Farragut. Nobody will challenge you to become better if you don’t first challenge yourself.”
After McGee graduated, Alderman moved into ninth grade and Coach Barnhill retired. Arron Prather, himself a decorated runner, took over as coach.
“I trained harder with Coach P,” McGee said. “He has the experience. He helped with sprints and different events.”
Also, she said, under Prather the team prayed together and “he helped us come together and find commonality.”
By her senior year, Alderman was the team captain. Throughout high school, she qualified for the state meet year after year: placing in ninth grade; winning and setting school records in 10th grade; placing in 11th grade; and placing and breaking her own records in 12th grade (see full list of track accomplishments, at right).
Meanwhile, in track’s off-season, she played volleyball.
Success in the classroom
Of course, it takes more than athletic excellence to get West Point’s attention. Alderman also succeeded in Farragut’s classrooms.
“She was an eighth-grader, with huge potential in athletics but even more importantly in academics,” McGee said.
Alderman’s academic achievements bear this out: Honor Roll in ninth grade. Honors classes (plus the Headmaster’s List) starting in 10th grade. She also earned the John M. Vanderford Athlete Award (twice) and the Orie T. Banks Best Senior Athlete Award. Alderman graduated in 2019 with a 3.68 overall GPA. In Naval Science, she earned the rank of Petty Officer 3rd Class.
Farragut Headmaster Bob Fine was one of Alderman’s biggest cheerleaders.
“From day one he has been so helpful,” she said. “He helped me get into honors. He helped me realize, ‘Oh, I can do this.’ ”
At West Point, Alderman may major in Physical Therapy and minor in Information Technology — although she’s leaving her options open: “Definitely something medical-wise,” she said.
Afterward, she’ll be following the family’s military tradition. Her father was in the Army, along with an aunt and two cousins. Her brother served in the Navy. Even so, an Army path wouldn’t have entered her mind if not for Farragut.
“Farragut definitely prepared me for the military lifestyle at West Point,” Alderman said. “I wouldn’t have even considered West Point if I hadn’t gone here.”
Although she’s looking ahead, Alderman can’t forget the friends and mentors at Farragut. Besides her coaches, she is particularly thankful for faculty and staff members, including 1stSgt David Worthy, Heather Ewing, Joshua Moore, Mark Panuthos, Jeri Williar, and Cesar Robalino.
Robalino, she said, used to jest that she was “the slowest walker but the fastest girl in school.”
Joking aside, Alderman is making her mark in the world.
“She is an amazing student-athlete,” said Barnhill, her eighth-grade coach. “I was only blessed to work with her one season, but knew right away that she was one of those special kids that you only get a few times during your coaching career.”
Honors and Achievements
- Honor Roll Student (2015-2016)
- Headmaster List (2017-2019)
- Member of Varsity Track State Championship Team (2015)
- Coach’s Award (2015-2016)
- John M. Vanderford Athlete Award (2016-2018)
- Four-Year Varsity Volleyball Player
- High Jump City Champion (2017)
- Anchored for the 4 x 100 Relay Team (Sydney Bostick, Faith Nelms, Katie Barnett, Jazmine Alderman) – 1A State Champions in this event (2017)
- MVP (2017-2018)
- 200-Meter Dash City Champion (2018)
- Wendy’s High School Heisman Memorial Trophy Award (2018)
- 100-Meter and 200-Meter Dash City Champion (2019)
- 3-time District and Regional Champion in 100-Meter Dash
- 3-time District Champion in 200-Meter Dash
- 2-time Regional Champion in 200-Meter Dash
- 4-time District and Regional Champion in the 4 x 100 Relay
- 5-time State Qualifier
- Current AFA Record Holder:
- 100-Meter Dash – 11.89 seconds
- 200-Meter Dash – 24.85 seconds
- 4 x 100 Relay – 48.30 seconds
- 4 x 4 Relay – 3 minutes 59.20 seconds