Jadae Barrett on Committing During a Global Pandemic

In the midst of this global pandemic, it almost feels like the world is on an indefinite pause. The sports world has definitely been hit hard by the Coronavirus with the postponement of the Olympic Games, the NCAA cancelling all spring sports and high school athletes everywhere watching their seasons end in a series of cancellations.

But, American Heritage senior, Jadae Barrett wouldn't let this stop her from taking her academic and athletic career to the next level, with her commitment to the University of Central Florida.

"There's a lot going on but knowing that I'm finally committed, I'm settled and I'm happy with my choice makes me very proud of this accomplishment," Barrett said. "The outbreak did stop the season from happening, but me signing has helped me see that I don't have anything to worry about. I'm so glad I committed to one of the top colleges that I wanted to go to, but I know this is not where it stops. I'm moving on to the next level, so I'm going to have to work harder."

Before announcing her commitment on March 29 via Instagram, Barrett was also considering the University of South Florida, Arkansas and Tennessee Tech. Outside of the Knights' program appeal, the senior said the school's nursing program made them stand out.

"I had the chance of going to their building and speaking with the coordinator of the nursing program," she said. "The way he spoke of the program, letting me know that it is difficult being an athlete and pursuing nursing because of clinicals and everything. But he helped me understand that there is a route that I will be able to complete and earn my degree and it will not interfere with track and field."

Like many South Florida high schoolers, Barrett only had four races under her belt when the season officially became postponed.

"It just kept happening one by one and then when our coach finally sent out a message saying we weren't able to perform at any other meets," Barrett explained. "I was anxious because my times that I had set for, and the goals of my races, I wouldn't be able to get there."

On the recruiting front, the NCAA suspended all on and off-campus recruiting until April 15 due to the virus. Luckily for Barrett her recruiting process was already in the works, as she visited UCF in late February.

"I was concerned with the recruiting process, but I was in contact with the UCF coach before it even started which I was grateful for," she said. "During my official visit I had the opportunity to spend time getting to know the team, Coach [Dana] Boone, Coach [Bryan] Jackson and the rest of the coaching staff," she said. "Attending the visit made me feel like I was already a part of the team, and I look forward to the future accomplishments that come with joining the team."

Barrett also further explained that the communication displayed by Coach Jackson during her process helped solidify her choice in UCF.

"I like a coach that I'm able to speak with about everything and we can just communicate with each other," she said. "It's not just every couple weeks but a couple days out the week and just building that communication helps a lot."

Throughout her high school career, the senior contributed to Hallandale's 2018 2A state championship, ran a US #1 at the 2018 Florida Relays in their 4x800m relay and won back to back 4x400m relay state titles with Hallandale and American Heritage.

Barrett also dropped four seconds from her sophomore to junior season in the 800m, with a seventh place finish at the FHSAA State Championship meet last year.

"She's an athlete that works hard and she has range," American Heritage head coach, Greg Barnes said. "She's a leader, just not vocally but through her training. I love that about her. She was a very significant part of my team this year, and I'm definitely going to miss her."

With personal bests of 2:15.03 in the 800m and 56.88 in the 400m, when Barrett gets on campus next fall she'll continue her training with a focus on the 800m.

"Both Coach Boone and Coach Jackson would play a part in my running," Barrett said. "Some runners are different, but I need the volume and the sprint work, so I'll be working with both of them."

She'll also be able to step into this new experience with a familiar face in Heritage teammate, Danielle Bess and former Hallandale teammate, Kiah Williams, who both committed during the early signing period.

The Knights will have a strong incoming class with Barrett, Bess, Williams, Mater Academy's Valerie Lastra, Columbia's Asherah Collins, Jupiter's Alexandra Del Re, Winter Springs' Mackenzie Czurak and Dwyer's Holly Cassels.

Even without this final season to prepare, Barrett is ready to take her championship mindset to the Knights.

"I've had the correct training," she said. "Everything is going to be different from my high school training to my college training, but as far as being ready for the next level I know I'm ready."

More Coverage: