Barbara Jacket served as the head coach of women’s track & field at Prairie View A&M University from 1966-91, compiling a record of achievement both at the collegiate and international level.
Jacket’s career in intercollegiate athletics began at the Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University), where she competed on fellow USTFCCCA Hall of Famer Dr. Nell Jackson‘s squads.
In 1966, Jacket returned to her alma mater to take over as head track & field coach, a position she held until her retirement from active coaching in 1991. During that tenure, her teams claimed nine-straight NAIA outdoor titles and two indoor titles; won national titles in the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) and the U.S. Track & Field Federation; and won 22 Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) titles (eight cross country, nine indoor, and five outdoor).
In recognition of her accomplishments, Jacket was named SWAC Coach of the Year on 23 occasions and NAIA Coach of the Year five times. She also tutored 57 All Americans.
In 1990, she became the only women athletic director in the SWAC when she was named to the position at Prairie View. The following year, she retired from active coaching, but her contributions to the sport continued. She served as an Olympic Track & Field coach in 1992, becoming the second Black female to coach an Olympic Team; the first was Dr. Jackson, who coached in 1956.
Jacket is a member of the NAIA, the Texas Women’s, the Drake Relays, the International Women’s Sports, the Tuskegee University Athletics, and the Prairie View University Athletics Halls of Fame, and she is honored in the Museum of the Gulf Coast for her achievements. In 1992, she received the President’s Award from The Athletics Congress (forerunner to USATF). She was twice honored with the Yellow Rose of Texas Award by Texas Governor Ann Richards. In addition, she was honored as a “Distinguished Citizen” by the Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce and received a proclamation for meritorious service by A & M Board of Regents in 1992.
Jacket passed away at the age of 87 on January 6, 2022.