Barbara Jacket was known as one of the greatest female track and field coaches in the United States.
PORT ARTHUR, Texas – The Southeast Texas community mourns the loss and honors the legacy of a beloved and well-known member of the sports community.
Barbara Jacket was known as one of the greatest female track and field coaches in the United States. Jacket died last week at the age of 87.
Friends and family of Jacket said it would take a week to list all his accomplishments.
Jacket was the head coach of the U.S. women’s track and field team for the 1992 Olympics. She was also the second African-American woman to serve as head coach of the U.S. Olympic team.
Jacket was known as a bright light in Southeast Texas and an inspiration and mentor to young athletes. His family said his legacy will never be forgotten.
“The world has lost a great person, and her legacy will live on not only in athletics, but also in her family, because she loved her family,” said Melvin Getwood, Jacket’s cousin.
Jacket was many things, but to her family, before she was anything else, she is a beloved member of them who will be truly missed.
“I think BJ had a great love for family,” Getwood said. “She was very family oriented. She pushed the family to do things at a high level, but she was down to earth. She showed humility in many of her commitments, but family was first with BJ.
A student-athlete herself, Jacket was involved in basketball and athletics while at Lincoln High School in Port Arthur. Jacket’s family say she has had a positive impact on and off the pitch.
“She was just a wonderful, kind, loving, compassionate person,” Getwood said. “She was also a strong disciplinarian. She also believed in and encouraged the family to go to school and get a college education.
After graduating from high school, Jacket continued her education and graduated from Tuskegee University. She then joined Prairie View A&M as a swim coach and started the Lady Panthers. The team has won numerous awards.
Jacket rose to international fame during the 1992 Olympics. It was there that she led her team to 10 medals in Barcelona.
Memorabilia of Jacket are on display at the Museum of the Gulf Coast. Museum staff fondly remember Jacket as an extraordinary woman who never forgot where she came from.
“Just a remarkable person, she didn’t forget Mom,” said Tom Neal, director of the Gulf Coast Museum. “She had a car which she drove in college and kept driving until the last day. She fell in love with the sport but built a house here for her mother in Port Arthur. never forgot his home or his birthplace.
Friends, family and fans of Jacket said his contributions and impact on not only Southeast Texas, but the country will never be forgotten.