Pine High's Barber Moves to UL-Monroe

By JOHNNIE DANIEL,

Franklinton's Jessica Barber was recently named as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for the women's basketball program at the University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM). She officially assumed her responsibilities at ULM in mid-May.

"What an incredible addition for our program!" ULM head coach Brooks Donald Williams said. "Jessica Barber is respected across our state for not only her coaching ability and knowledge of the game but also for the profound impact she has had on young peoples' lives. She is a difference maker in every sense of the word. I'm excited to see the impact she will have in our program, on campus and in the community."

Jessica worked the last two years in the Washington Parish School System. She was an assistant coach at Franklinton High School in 2017-18 before being named head coach of the girls program at Pine High School for the 2018-19 season. She led the Lady Raiders to a berth in the state playoffs before accepting the job at ULM.

"In dreaming of become a college basketball coach, I never imagined the many lives that would change mine along the way," said Jessica. "I'm forever blessed and fortunate to have this opportunity. For many, it's merely just a dream. For me, it's a dream come true-again!! This time, even a bit sweeter. I'll be better because of the role model Brooks Donald Williams will continue to be for me."

A 2001 graduate of Franklinton High School, Jessica was a dominant force on the basketball court for the Lady Demons. She earned All-District honors in all four seasons of her high school career while helping lead the team to a State Runner-Up finish as a freshman. The Lady Demons captured the District Championship three out of four seasons in her career and the point guard was named to the All-State team as a sophomore, junior and senior. She was also selected to play in the LHSAA All-Star game where she was named Most Valuable Player of the contest. Jessica finished her high school career with over 1500 points.

"Jessica continues to touch people and do great things; a true gift," said Regina Meyerchick, Jessica's high school coach. "In 32 years of coaching, she is one of my toughest players, one of my hardest workers and one of my smartest point guards… and I've had two or three of the best around. That's the part everyone watching our team could see. "She walked into my basketball camp at age 5 and it was apparent on Day 1 that she loved the game and would run through a wall to please me. We've been through some wonderful highs and challenging lows through the years and it's still the same today. We are family and I am so proud of the strength she has shown in all of life's challenges and opportunities. She still contacts me about big decisions, but always assures me that prayer proceeded her decision. She doesn't need me, but I hope it never changes. For this I am blessed."

Jessica earned a scholarship to the University of Mobile (AL) where she became the school's all-time leader in assists with 384. A four year letter winner as a point guard, she helped the Lady Rams win the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference championship in 2002 while earning GCAC All-Academic honors for four consecutive years (2002-2005). After earning her Bachelor of Science, Jessica served as an assistant coach for the University of Mobile during the 2005-06 season.

Jessica's first stint at Franklinton High School came as a head coach in the 2006-07 season where she inherited a Lady Demons squad that was 3-21. She led her FHS team to a 13-12 record before accepting a job as an assistant coach at Loyola University in New Orleans. She spent two seasons working as an assistant coach under DoBee Plaisance, first at Loyola University in 2007-08 and then at Nicholls State in 2008-09. During her time at Loyola, she helped the team capture the regular season title and advance to the NAIA Elite 8 while winning a school-record 28 games.

Jessica followed by serving as the head boys basketball coach at Greater Gentilly High School from 2009-11. In 2011, she was named girls' head basketball coach at Edna Karr High School in New Orleans. She led the Lady Cougars to four consecutive District 10-4A District Championships (2014-2017) while reaching the state semifinals in 2014 and 2015. Jessica earned District Coach of the Year honors in three consecutive seasons (2014, 2015 and 2016) while compiling an overall record of 140-57 from 2011-17

. "I can't wait to get to work with Jess every day, and most importantly, for our student-athletes to get to work with her daily," said Coach Williams. "I'm so excited to welcome Jessica Barber to ULM."