Jacket, Lincoln grad, will be honored for Track hall induction

Published 1:13 pm Friday, January 19, 2018

A reception honoring former Prairie View A& M and U.S. Olympic track and field coach Barbara Jacket will be held from 2-4 p.m. Saturday at Clayton Oaks Living, 21175 Southwest Freeway in Richmond.

The Port Arthur native was inducted into the Texas Track & Field Coaches Association Hall of Fame in Addison on Jan. 5. Regarded as one of the greatest women’s track coaches in U.S. history, Jacket coached at Prairie View from 1965-91, with her teams winning eight NAIA outdoor and two indoor championships and earning more national titles in the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women and the U.S. Track and Field Federation. Jacket’s teams also won eight Southwestern Athletic Conference cross country titles, nine SWAC indoor and and five SWAC outdoor titles. Jacket was named SWAC coach of the year on 23 occasions and NAIA coach of the year five times.

Jacket tutored 57 All-Americans and became the only woman athletic director in the conference at Prairie View in 1990. She retired from the university in 1991 to devote more time to preparation for the 1992 Summer Olympics in

Barcelona as the U.S. women’s track coach.

Among her athletes in Barcelona were Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Gwen Torrance, Gail Devers and Evelyn Ashford. Team USA won four gold medals, three silver and three bronze, at the time more than any team since 1956, when her college coach, Dr. Nell Jackson, led the team. The 4×100-meter relay team also set a record.

Jacket was born in Port Arthur, graduated from Lincoln High in 1954 and Tuskegee Institute in 1958.

She is a member of the NAIA, Texas Women’s and Tuskegee Athetic halls of fame and was honored as a Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce “Distinguished Citizen.”