Harper family excels on and off the court
Heights High basketball players Jasmine, Antonio and Alexandra Harper were standout players this year. The girls varsity team was league champion, the boys received the #1 seed in the district tournament and reached the semifinals, and the girls freshman team played a strong season.
Their coaches say the three sibling post players have solid game fundamentals and leadership skills. Their success in basketball is paired with success in the classroom—they each have GPAs higher than 3.0.
The Harper family’s dedication to basketball and school started with parents James and Elaine, both educators and athletes. While attending college, James played football and Elaine basketball. Elaine also played professional basketball in Greece. In addition to basketball, the Harper girls play volleyball and run track, and Antonio plays football and runs track. They all swim, play soccer and tennis, and were trained in traditional Greek dance.
“Our family focus has always been on both academics and athletics,” James said. “We tell them that success in both will bring them more opportunities.”
James and Elaine said they started their family during March Madness—Jasmine was born on March 17, with the broadcast of the first tournament game of 1994 as the soundtrack. By the time Jasmine was five, James was coaching her youth basketball team at Hillcrest Y and later their church team at Sts. Constantine and Helen. The teams quickly added Antonio and Alex. Elaine coached from the sidelines, equipped with a video camera and Gatorade.
This has been a special year for the family, Elaine said. “Watching the games and seeing our kids grow and succeed has been fantastic,” she said. “Heights High has been great for all of us.”
Jasmine, now a senior, was captain of the girls varsity team and led the Lady Tigers to an LEL championship. Coach Kim Hanson depended on Jasmine to score and help others during practice. “She is a gamer. When we faced our toughest opponents, she put the team on her shoulders,” Hanson said. Jasmine plans to study pre-med in college this fall and play basketball.
Antonio, a junior, was a starter on the boys varsity team. “Antonio understands his role. He plays hard and I can always depend on him to get the job done,” said Coach Andy Suttell. “And even more important, he is a great young man.” Antonio is in the interactive media program and wants to study video communications in college.
Alex played on the freshman team. “Alex has been very generous in her leadership and she has made a real difference on the team,” said Coach Karen Battle. “We are looking for her to add even more next year.”
All three kids expressed gratitude for their parents’ support. “I have a good understanding of the game because of my dad,” Jasmine said.
“He also stressed that we need to step up to be team leaders,” Alex added.
Antonio explained: “Dad had us play hard, in hot gyms, the girls playing against boys; we all played against older players, and we watched videos—all of that paid off.”
This year the Harper family celebrated Jasmine’s eighteenth birthday and March Madness in Columbus, watching six games. The Harper family is not defined by basketball, but it is a strong force that unites them.
Joy Henderson is the parent/community liaison at Heights High.