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  • Writer's pictureCollin Atwood

Jasmine Glover is at Peace as a Troll

Jasmine Glover’s journey to her first college dorm room had no shortage of bumps, twists, and turns. Going into her first semester of college, her only housing option had been her old, beat-up four-door SUV.

When she achieved the “luxury” of on-campus living she wanted to finally enjoy life without worrying about where she would sleep at night or how she would pay the bills. She wanted to be a kid.

To remind her of her past challenges and to illustrate a positive mindset, she created a “Positive Affirmations Wall” in her room. Sticky notes - orange, pink, green and yellow – formed a checkerboard of quotes, thoughts and phrases that resonated.

“Water your roots.”

“Old keys don’t unlock new doors.”

“Protect your peace.” Those three words are on a green sticky. Her eyes are drawn to it often.

“It’s so simple, but big because I let a lot of external factors affect me a lot and so, protecting my peace has been one of the biggest things for me,” she said.

Her childhood and family life rarely included what those words typically define. Peace was scarce. Protecting her what peace should could find proved not just a desire, but a necessity.

Her family neglected her on multiple occasions, and they never showed her the love and security a child needs and deserves. Her father was overbearing, and her mother was absent. The old saying “children should be seen and not heard” did not apply. When Glover’s mother did show her face, nothing good usually followed.

The numerous times that her family has left her feeling desolate leaves her with a lingering question: “why doesn’t my real family love me?”

Thankfully for Glover, a version of family, support and love came from another source: basketball.

Glover grew up in a small town 57 miles north of Chicago in Fox Lake, Illinois with her stepmom and father. She shared the house with her seven siblings, Glover being the youngest.

In middle school, Glover participated in track, dance, and cheerleading. She had little interest in sports. In high school, her plan to pursue dance was blocked when she failed to make the dance team as a freshman.

One day, the basketball coach at Grant Community High School, Karen Middleton, recognized Glover because she knew her sister Brittany. Middleton asked Glover to try out. With little convincing and perhaps more surprise, Glover said yes.

“I had no intentions to try out,” Glover said. “I’ve never played, never touched a basketball, nothing.”

Despite her inexperience, she made the team, not because of skill but because of effort.

“I was not good at offense at all,” Glover chuckled. “Defense has always been my strong suit.”

During Glover’s freshman year she had two coaches who recognized her potential. Though quick, long and athletic, she needed to acquire offensive skills and she started at square one.

“What they would do was actually start keeping me after practice, just me, and I would work on layups and shooting and stuff like that,” Glover said.

While Glover's skills on the court grew, the relationship with her family diminished.

During high school, Glover had been banished from home multiple times but always eventually was allowed to return. The relationship with her father seemed to waver between poor and bad. Until it got worse.

Senior Night celebrates those ending their high school basketball career. Emotions can run high as parents show their pride and players try to hide their tears. On senior night at Grant Community High School, Glover’s emotions were all over the place.

She and her father were in a rocky patch and he did not plan on attending senior night. Not as traumatic as a father opting out of walking his daughter down the wedding aisle, but still hurtful. Glover asked her coaches, Karen and Bernard Middleton to walk with her during the on-court ceremony.

Glover was downhearted after the game. However, she did have a celebratory dinner to attend with Adrienne and Paul Virgilio, a couple who had employed Glover to help them flip houses. Glover knew the post-game meal was supposed to lift her spirits. That heavy lift became a moment of surprise and excitement when she walked out of the gym.

“I remember still complaining about (what had happened) and Adrienne turned around and was like, I hope this makes you happier,’ and she hands me some keys,” Glover said.

The keys were for a 2001 Toyota Sequoia, Paul’s old car that had around 200,000 miles on it. Instead of getting rid of it, they decided that it would be put to better use if they gifted it to Glover. The car's condition did not matter one bit. She expressed sincere gratitude for receiving a boost when she needed it.

Her happiness was short-lived. Her father was angry about the helping hand.

“He felt some type of way about it,” Glover said. “That was the final time I was kicked out and couldn’t come back.”

That 2001 Toyota Sequoia turned out to be a blessing and a curse. That SUV served as her means of transportation as well as the roof over her head.

Even with all the outside noise and drama that Glover faced in high school, she still maintained acceptable grades and excelled on the hardwood. Her efforts, combined with help from her basketball family, resulted in her getting recruited by McHenry County College, a small school in Crystal Lake, Illinois in 2017.

“Very athletic and quick was what caught our eye right away,” said Karen Wiley, coach of the women’s basketball team at McHenry.

During Glover’s time at McHenry, the team won two conference championships and made two regional championship appearances. The most valuable by-product was the connection she made with Wiley. It was a bond that Glover needed more than anything.

Going into college, Glover lived out of her car with an unfaithful and abusive boyfriend. The toxic relationship drained Glover mentally. Still, the idea of leaving him sounded bizarre. She had nothing and nobody. If she left him, she would truly be alone.

“He was kind of my only sense of family,” Glover said.

Finally, after the cheating and physical abuse became too much, she realized she needed to stand up for herself. Despite any repercussions, she ended the relationship.

Time to protect her peace.

She found strength from her new family at McHenry. As a high school senior, Glover had first met Wiley and had opened up about her dysfunctional family life.

“I thought it took a great deal of courage to share that much that soon with us,” Wiley said.

Between sharing tears in her office and making memories on the court, the bond built between Wiley and Glover became stronger.

“We provided what we could where we could, whether it was a meal or a night with a teammate,” Wiley said.

For the first year, Glover tried her best to hide her homelessness from her teammates. “They didn’t know. I kept it a secret for a while actually,” she said.

The connection that Glover made with her teammates started on the court. An undersized team, they always went into a game with an underdog mentality.

“We didn’t look like a team that was going to come in and beat you by 20, but we’d get on the court and just play our butts off and that was the beauty of it,” Glover said.

That chemistry on the court transitioned into relationships off the court.

“At a time where I really felt like I didn’t have a family, they really became my sense of family,” Glover said.

During Glover’s second year at McHenry, she earned herself enough money to get an apartment that she shared with a teammate. Finally, everything seemed to be looking up for Glover. She became a captain on her team and worked her way towards an apartment where she could have her teammates over.

No longer did she have to sleep in a 2001 Toyota Sequoia.

When her two years at McHenry ended in 2019, Glover didn’t have interest in continuing her education at a four-year college. She planned to move to Texas with a friend.

Trinity Christian College, located in Palos Heights, Ill., wanted Glover to play for its team. It took some convincing.

Enough people in Glover’s life impressed upon her that she would regret missing out on this blessing of an opportunity. Eventually, Glover caved and took a visit to Trinity’s campus in Palos Heights, Illinois and absolutely adored it. Glover decided to go play for the Trolls.

This posed a problem. Glover’s lease for the apartment ended in May and she could not move into Trinity until August. She reached out to her sister, who agreed to let Glover move in for a few months.

Glover and her sister had lost touch because of family issues. Over time, Glover reached out and worked on mending their relationship. She thought their relationship healed enough for them to live together. She was mistaken.

While she lived at her sister's house, Glover’s biological mother, who had not been in contact with her daughters, showed up unexpectedly.

“There was drama that got stirred up because I felt like I was an outcast to them and I thought that both of them being up here, we were going to mesh together and do mother and daughter things,” Glover said. “But it didn’t go that way. I kind of was left to the side.”

On August 1, 2019, it was time to leave. Her sister was adamant about the deadline. When Glover arrived to take her belongings, a physical altercation took place.

“My mom and my sister jumped me.”

This caused a major setback in the progress that Glover had made. Moving on and trying to understand her tainted relationship with her father made her life hard enough. Now, when she thought she was at least becoming close to her sister and mother, those relationships were trashed.

“My first year at Trinity I was very closed off and struggling mentally, heavily,” Glover said.

Rather than being her upbeat and extroverted self, Glover held back and kept to herself because she always had this constant question in her mind: “Why doesn’t my real family love me?”

Glover constantly relied on others outside of her immediate family to give her love, a shoulder to cry on or even a place to sleep. Multiple times, those came from her extended basketball family.

History repeated itself at Trinity Christian. Glover eventually opened her heart to her new family and especially to Jasmine Elliot, her best friend and former teammate.

When they first met, Elliot encouraged Glover to get out of the room. She perpetually texted Glover to come hang out at small campus events because she noticed how Glover was often hesitant to speak.

“She was very standoffish, really just trying to keep to herself,” Elliot said.

As their friendship blossomed, by sharing their life stories with each other and having meaningful conversations, they started to realize how much they had in common. Their favorite activity: taking a car ride while listening to 90’s R&B music.

“We just feed off of each other’s energy,” Glover said.

Perhaps it is a blessing to counter the curse of her family life, but Glover has been able to find people with warm and kind hearts. Elliot, along with the rest of the Trinity team provided Glover sisterhood when she needed it.

“It gave me the sense of family that I felt like I was missing this whole time,” Glover said, noting that the team shares in each other’s successes on and off the court. “It’s heart-warming to know that we celebrate each other’s victories.”

Finally, in her senior year of college, Glover found herself in a stable situation with a roof over her head and a rekindled relationship with her father. Her therapist encouraged her to reach out and fix the broken relationships in her life. Now Glover and her father stand on solid ground. And when it comes time for her undergraduate commencement, he will be there.

She can now focus on what most college kids worry about: school. Glover has been thriving in the classroom. Last semester she received her first mention on Trinity’s dean's list.

“That was a big accomplishment for me,” she said.

At Trinity, Glover is majoring in communications and minoring in Black Studies. She hopes that her passion for writing, storytelling and inspiring others will be part of her future. She wants to share her story with as many people as possible to show that there is always hope.

Glover currently serves this mission at a DCF (Department of Children and Family Services) boys’ residential home where she works. She shares her story to show them that no matter how hard things seem, the future will always remain bright.

“I plan to continue this route of influencing and motivating other young adults,” Glover said.

It may not be on one of her sticky notes, but Jasmine Glover is affirming her ability to make change through her story every day.

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