After nearly a year, I finally got to talk to Jewel Triggs

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It takes a lot to make a sportswriter re-write his/her column.

Especially this sportswriter.

Time is too precious, space is too tight, and as a hybrid Sports Editor, youth basketball coach and fun-loving 26-year-old, I just honestly don’t find much pleasure re-doing work that has already been completed.

But as I made the long walk from the Thibodaux High School basketball gymnasium to my car this past Friday night and then made the even longer drive from Thibodaux back home to Cut Off, I knew that I needed to re-write my Casey’s Corner piece that had already been completed for the week and nestled onto this very page.

In its original form, this week’s column was going to discuss Thibodaux High School standout guard Jewel Triggs and give a bit of a blow-by-blow recap of the past 10 months of her life.

In the piece, I discussed details behind the entire Vandebilt ordeal, and I discussed how tough a time it probably was for the then-sophomore, now-junior to handle.

I wrapped the whole thing up and got to the meat of the column by discussing the present and talking about how amazing it is that Triggs was able to resurface at Thibodaux to become one of the top prep basketball players in the Tri-parish area.

That was my column in its original form – written and already on the page before attending the Lady Tigers’ game last Friday night.

But after speaking with the young woman and several of the people closest to her at that game, I knew that rehashing the past wouldn’t be fair to Triggs, nor to the entire situation.

The truth is that Triggs did nothing wrong to warrant negative publicity – the things that happened in the past were 100 percent out of her control and the outcome and forfeiture were completely something that occurred against her will.

So instead of talking about the negativity that Triggs never could control, I made the 50-minute drive home that night knowing that it was my journalistic duty to show the world the young woman that I had observed throughout my night at Thibodaux’s gym.

Let me first start this off by saying that I’ve only spoken to Jewel Triggs two times in my life.

The first was two years ago at Vandebilt – a story I was doing about the Lady Terriers’ team during their playoff push.

It was about a two-minute interview. In and then out.

She was just in the ninth grade at the time. Triggs was obviously nervous, and I was in a hurry to get to another assignment, so it was a situation that worked for everyone involved.

Throughout everything at Vandebilt, Triggs was understandably off-limits to reporters, so I was thrust with the unenviable task of writing in-depth stories about a teenage child I knew little about.

It was a task nearly impossible to do with complete perfection, but I think that our editorial staff did a great job sorting out the facts and displaying an accurate depiction of the entire ordeal.

But with that said, I was pretty eager to have another talk with Triggs this past this past Friday in the hall of the Thibodaux girls’ basketball locker room.

This conversation was longer, more in-depth and definitely more serious in nature. And once completed, I think that I then started to develop an understanding of who this young woman is that I had been writing about for the past few years.

Instead of just a name in a newspaper headline, she was Jewel Triggs – the high school junior at Thibodaux High School.

More importantly than that, she was Jewel Triggs – the innocent teenager who hates that any of this negative stuff ever had to happen.

I learned during my time speaking with Triggs that she is quiet and soft-spoken in nature. Several times throughout my interview, I had to duck my head closer to her to fully hear what she was saying. Throughout the entirety of our conversation, my recorder stayed close to her face so that the audio would be picked up by the machine.

But through the soft voice, I also learned that Triggs absolutely loves basketball.

I spoke to a handful of people close to Triggs while formulating my feature story, and everyone involved told me how hard the young junior works to be a better basketball player.

Lady Tigers’ coach Damon Robinson said that when all of the drama reached a breaking point last year, Triggs used the sport as her reprieve – her way to escape the real world and find peace.

Triggs genuinely cares about her performance and has pride in her work. She didn’t play overly well last Friday night, and it showed in her body language throughout the chat.

Probably the reason Triggs embraces the sport so much is because she is such a fierce competitor. Throughout our conversation, Triggs smiled when talking about Thibodaux’s 2013-14 team – a solid squad that is more than capable of making a playoff push.

Triggs said multiple times in the interview that she looked forward to an opportunity to win playoff games and push for a state championship.

But basketball aside, it was also pretty clear that Triggs is just a good-natured, fun-loving kid that loves all of the things that any typical teenager does. 

In the classroom, Triggs is a solid, Honor Roll student with a glistening GPA that is among the best on Thibodaux’s team.

Robinson said Triggs fit into the Lady Tigers’ program immediately because of her warm and caring personality, which immediately allowed her to make new friends on a new campus.

When given a chance to boast about her future plans to be a college basketball player, Triggs showed a lot of that desire for togetherness. She smiled from ear-to-ear while listing the schools that have stepped up to express interest in her services.

But she quickly shifted the attention away from herself and back toward the Lady Tigers, touting that she has “a lot of time” to figure out where she wants to go to college.

Truly the only unpleasant thing in the young student athlete’s thoughts is that one week last spring when everything erupted and spun out of control – the time when Triggs was forced to grow up too soon and was asked to understand and grasp problems that are advanced beyond her years.

Triggs offered little about the situation and said she’s moved on and wants to forget that the whole ordeal ever happened.

My initial column was going to go against those wishes and to give our readers a reminder of the story that Triggs wants to permanently forget.

But after meeting this young woman that I’ve been writing about for the past 10 months, I decided that I needed to change my game plan and introduce the area to the true personality of that terrific player that is now competing at Thibodaux.

Jewel Triggs is a good kid – similar to every other high school kid that I encounter on a day-to-day basis.

After speaking to her, it didn’t take long for me to find it in my heart to muster a rewrite on her behalf.

After 10 months under the coals, it’s about time the young woman gets a chance to read about herself in these pages without fear, nor worry about what’s going to be said next by folks like me who understand the situation, but not the people living the entire ordeal in their day-to-day lives.

It’s about time that the world knows the real Jewel Triggs – the person I never knew existed until we met last Friday night in the hallway of the Lady Tigers’ locker room.