Jaia Alexander: Back to where it all started 

Coming back to Baltimore signified more to Jaia Alexander than “just playing basketball,”; it meant returning to where her community saw her grow.

Jaia Alexander is a twenty-three-year-old graduate criminal justice major from Baltimore. Her basketball career started at Clemson University in 2016. She then left for Butler University, and now attends Coppin State University. 

Alexander carried her knowledge from her collegiate career and is transforming young women across Baltimore into the dream of becoming the future of the NBA. Alexander pours her athletic knowledge into these ladies by helping perfect their skills, she helps them by giving up her time to train and build a relationship for them to feel comfortable on and off the courts. 

“[I enjoy] giving back to my community, it has been fun and eye-opening, and [I have] been in contact with the youth teams, and I work out with the girls,” she said. 

Empowerment is paramount to Alexander, and said [being home] “is the perfect connection, seeing the individuals who saw me grow and now playing at the level that I once dreamed,” she said.

Alexander mentors the young women in the Amateur Athletic Union [a club/travel team for youth sports], and her biggest reward is hearing the feedback from the young ladies. “I feel inspired,” she said. AAU [Amateur Athletic Union] provides youth to play at a  competitive level and are given the opportunity to be seen by college coaches. Having Alexander part of their training allows these ladies to see that with hard work their dreams can become a reality. 

Alexander’s last collegiate career is special for her as she ends it at Coppin State, “I know how it feels to not be noticed, and being at Coppin I realize that I worked to be here and make the headlines, all my work has paid off.,” she said. For Alexander and her team Coppin State is seen as “the underdog,” they stated. 

“All of us have a unique story, we are often overlooked, Coppin is overlooked, but we have a unique story for all,” shared Aliyah Lawson, a junior Red-shirt guard from Canada. For Alexander and her team Coppin State is viewed with minimal resources, but “we are winning the games, and we are coming strong,” they said. The team is proving to the world that Coppin State is a place with a lot of potential and dreams that are becoming a reality. 

Alexander shares the gratifying moments of what it means to be “an eagle,” and for her being in the eagle nation “has made me feel more positive,” she said. 

Giving back to her community is not the only reason Coppin holds a unique place in Alexander’s heart; head coach Laura Harper is part of why Alexander came to Coppin.

Harper — a Philadelphia native who started her current job last year — established a rapport with Alexander years ago. Harper previously coached at Montverde Academy in Fla

“[She] stood out to me from all other recruiters, and she recruited me from high school; I was able to have a very close bond with her and be able to finish my last year at home,” she said. 

Coppin State and her team as a whole have transformed this young athlete’s journey. “I have been able to heal and become a better version of myself,” she said. 

Keylin Perez is a Junior nursing major and editor of the Courier. This story is part of a series called Athlete of The Week. The Courier will publish the next installment of this series on Jan. 7.