When junior Jeriah Garton was in the midst of her college searching, playing basketball was not one of her top priorities.
Despite having played the game since she was in fifth grade, the 5’11” center did not think she was talented enough to play at the college level.
Now, in her third year with Eastern’s program, Garton serves as the team’s speaking captain and leads the team with an impressive 25 blocked shots. She also has 69 points and 68 rebounds this season thus far.
As an upperclassman, Garton said that she has definitely seen a change in the team’s group dynamic and unity since her first year.
“Other years it was very distinct who was friends with whom, and that really affects playing,” Garton said. “A team’s success is definitely determined by the relationship within the team.
“We don’t feel as if there is one set captain because anyone can step up at anytime,” she said. “I think different girls hold different leadership roles. I lead more by example – I’m not as outspoken as some of the others.”
While she may be more soft-spoken in person, Garton’s presence is definitely loud on the court, where she poses a threat to any incoming shots. In her first year, Garton lead the Pennsylvania Athletic Conference in blocked shots.
“There’s just something about playing and being in an intense situation,” Garton said. “It’s great being able to take your aggression out on someone else.”
Garton said that her favorite aspect of playing is being a part of a team and sharing the experiences of winning and losing with the other girls. The tight-knit community is one of the main reasons she has stuck with the sport for so long.
However, there have been struggles along the way for Garton, namely the adjustment of coming from a very successful high school team, Living Word Academy in Leola, Pa., which won their conference title three out of her four years there.
“I’ve had to get used to only winning three games every year, and still getting enough fire and motivation,” Garton said.
When she is not playing basketball, Garton enjoys painting, sewing and reading thought-provoking books. However, her biggest passion may be traveling. She has already been to France, Spain and Germany, but would like to travel more after school, possibly to South America.
The communications major said she would love to study abroad, but with basketball overlapping into both the fall and spring semester, her only option would be to go over the summer. In addition to classes, Garton is also part of the Leadership Grant Program and is working on a minor in anthropology, keeping her schedule very busy.
“I think people have a deprived view of athletes, that we don’t have any other interests,” Garton said. “It’s very draining. There are a lot of other things I’d like to be doing on campus. You have to juggle your spiritual life, practices, games, and classes. I don’t know how I’ve done it.”