Player Profiles: Heather Butler and Jasmine Newsome
Published: Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 11:01
At a women’s basketball game, two distinct things can be seen: a cohesive team that has their heads in the game and a pair of players that always gives the crowd a good show.
These two ladies are not ball hogs, but they are the two Coach Kevin McMillan trusts to get the team to the basket. Who are these two ladies? They are junior guards Heather Butler and Jasmine Newsome.
Both women found the love of basketball at an early age. Both watched their older siblings play, which helped to nurture the love of the game in both of them.
“My older sister played,” said Butler. “I just wanted to be like her. Then I started practicing when I got older. It was around fourth grade, and it just grew from there.”
Somewhat like her counterpart, Newsome was in the same boat.
“I got my love of basketball from my older brother. When I saw him play, I wanted to be just like him,” said Newsome.
Though their siblings were the biggest influence in their lives, it was their love of the game that gave them the power they needed to play. They played all through elementary school and middle school. It wasn’t until high school that they got the most recognition.
Like almost all college basketball players, Butler and Newsome had some amazing careers in high school.
Butler attended Gibson County and played for the Lady Pioneers. According to utmsports.com, she led her team in her junior year all the way to the Tennessee State Championship. Also in her junior year, she was named regional tournament MVP. She was named The Jackson Sun’s All-West Tennessee Player of the Year her senior year.
Newsome’s accolades didn’t start until she settled in at Millington Central High School.
“I was an army brat so I moved around a lot,” said Newsome.
She found a home on her high school’s gym floor. While at Millington Central, she helped her team finish runner-up in substate her freshman and junior years. She also helped them pick up three consecutive crowns at the Dragon Fire Tournament. She played all four years at Millington Central and was named the Memphis Commercial Appeal’s Best of the Preps.
Going into their senior years of high school, the ladies had no idea where they were going to college. They had heard of UTM, but they were dead set against going to a school that they hadn’t heard of too much. Luckily their lives were changed, and not because they had scored scholarships.
“I talked to all the coaches and saw the campus. Then Jaclissa [Haslip] was coming so I came here,” said Newsome.
Butler’s reasons for coming to UTM were a little bit different.
“When I first heard of UTM, I was like ‘UTM who?’ I knew of them but there was no way I was going. In the end, I came because of Coach McMillan,” said Butler.
Coach Kevin McMillan had been the head coach at Gibson County while Butler was a junior and a senior. When he moved to UTM, he brought Butler with him.
Once they got to UTM, Butler and Newsome were put together on a team. While playing in high school, the ladies played AAU, or Amateur Athletic Union Basketball. They played for different teams and were rivals.
“We weren’t the best of friends coming in. We always played against them [Newsome’s team] in AAU. We were rivals. Then when we came here we bonded,” said Butler.
Since they came in together, they both had a hard time adjusting to college life. These ladies were homesick.
“I was nervous coming in,” said Newsome. “I wanted to be back in high school. We all went home every weekend. We never spent the weekend here until the season began. Even then, after games we went home.”
As they bonded with their team, and each other, they began spending more and more time together. They learned it the hard way, especially when the season is going full force.
“We have to keep up with everything,” said Butler. “It’s really heard with classes, traveling and games.”
Home games aren’t too bad. It’s the away games that get everyone.
“You have to study on the bus after a game, win or lose. You might have practice the next day. Your body’s tired and you’re tired. You have so much work to do. You still got to do it,” said Newsome.
Even though the work is hard, the ladies still work until they can’t work anymore. They find time to let loose, though. When someone looks at the two of them, he or she sees tough women. In reality, they are completely different.
“I love to shop in my free time,” Butler said.
Newsome would rather stay away from crowds, preferring to stay in her room.
“I play Xbox,” said Newsome.
Though they enjoy time away from each other, they’d much rather spend it together or with their team. They love movies and television shows; Catfish, Love and Basketball, America’s Next Top Model, Teen Mom and The Vow are just a few to name. Recently they enjoyed Pitch Perfect.
Like all college students, they love food.
“I’ll eat anything with alfredo in it, and my favorite restaurant is Red Lobster,” said Newsome.
Butler isn’t a fan of seafood, so she could do without Red Lobster. Anything else she will eat.