Todd Beamer High School girls basketball coach Corey Alexander couldn’t get his senior point guard and team captain Jahpera McEachin to stick around a little longer.
“You sure you don’t want to stay another year?” Corey Alexander joked last week. “I’ll see if we can throw in free lunch — maybe a parking spot?”
McEachin chuckled and politely declined as graduation was the next day and she is moving on to play basketball at Evergreen State College.
Because of her accomplishments at Todd Beamer, McEachin was presented the 2017 Federal Way Mirror Female Athlete of the Year Award on June 16.
McEachin helped lead the Titans to their third consecutive state tournament appearance and numerous All-League selections while averaging a team-leading 15.7 points and two steals per game.
Her breakout senior season helped land her an offer from the Geoduck women’s basketball program.
“This is really cool,” McEachin said of the award. “This wouldn’t be possible without my teammates, not just from this year, but all four years that I’ve been here. They all helped make me into the player I am today.”
Those same teammates McEachin praised for her success are the same ones who kept her on the bench for a good portion of her Beamer career.
McEachin was forced to scrap for minutes behind quality starters like Bria Rice , Nia Alexander and Makenna Woodfork , who all went on to play for Division I basketball programs.
Instead of shunning the up-and-coming point guard, however, the three took McEachin under their wings, mentored her and helped prepare her to take over as the starting point guard her senior season.
“She came into a program that already had a lot of talent,” Corey Alexander said. “What struck me is that she never shied away from it. She could have easily transferred somewhere else and started much earlier, but she stayed here, learned the game, and she grew from that.”
It was Rice, Woodfork and Nia Alexander who saw what McEachin was capable of when presented with quality playing time.
They decided it was McEachin who would take over the team in 2016-17 as the vocal and on-court senior leader.
Throughout last year, the three seniors and McEachin met before games, and they would give McEachin an inspirational pep talk.
This season, McEachin helped lead the Titans to their third straight state tournament appearance on March 1 against Kentridge, but it was her first without her mentors.
But Rice and Nia Alexander, whom McEachin refers to as her “sisters,” reached out to her before the game via FaceTime.
Because of those gestures, McEachin is quick to give them credit for her development in the program.
McEachin said the greatest gift those teammates gave to her was regularly stressing the importance of effort and always giving 110, 120 percent each day.
“I think they really instilled in her that, as a point guard, you better leave the ‘I’s’ at the door,” Corey Alexander said. “It’s about the team and what she can do to make the team better. Because of that, there wasn’t anything I couldn’t ask of her that she wouldn’t do.”
This season, just as Rice, Nia Alexander and Woodfork did for her, McEachin passed her knowledge on to younger players like freshmen guards Aaliyah Alexander and Najahia Forks.
McEachin moves on to college basketball at Evergreen State now, a program, which, after a 7-20 season in 2016-17, needs her talent.
She won’t stay at Beamer another year. She’s done all she can for the Titans.
Most notably, McEachin left the program better than she found it.
“What she’s done for this program is priceless,” Corey Alexander said. “She always played hard, even when she didn’t have to. She set the tone and standards for this program. You can’t measure everything she’s done for us because, like I said, it’s priceless.”