Omoiye Jordan isn’t all talk.
As a vocal leader of the Neumann-Goretti High School girls basketball team, Jordan’s actions are both heard by her teammates and followed on the court. But Jordan goes a step further when it comes to school and standing up for things she believes in.
After witnessing a summer of racial tension unfold across the country, Jordan took a stand when she noticed similar things were happening in her own life. She began building the groundwork for a black student forum at her school.
“After everything hit during quarantine and police brutality was happening, there was a lot of insensitivity going on in my school,” Jordan said. “And I felt people need to be more educated about racial situations like that and I thought this would help. I wanted to bring in speakers to the school to talk to students and teachers about it, hoping problems would come to an end.”
The process of forming an official forum has been slowed during the pandemic, but Jordan isn’t giving up, even if it happens after she graduates in the spring.
“With COVID and everything, the administration at school was having a struggle with it,” Jordan said. “But they are talking to me about starting it next year for the underclassmen. There have been some Zoom meetings so far with parents on the topic, helping them know what to say to their kids. I don’t know exactly how many people attend but it started happening and it wasn’t happening before. So it’s a step in the right direction.”
It’s that type of bravery and persistence that has earned her teammates’ and coaches’ respect both on and off the court. Jordan is seen as one of the Saints’ leaders as the team once again competes in the tough Philadelphia Catholic League Red Division, and she’s pretty good at putting the ball in the basket, too. Jordan has both an inside and outside presence with the ability to grab big rebounds or knock down a crucial 3-pointer when her team needs it. Saints coach Andrea Peterson says Jordan checks a lot of boxes, especially when it comes to leadership.
“She’s fantastic,” Peterson said. “She leads this crew and wants to do a lot of things off the court and lead movements. Omoiye is the one that takes the lead on a lot of stuff, and people respect her for that and I think it’s going to bring awareness to a lot of things. And on the court, even if she struggles scoring, she finds a way to play harder on defense to find her stride.”
The Saints had a tough start to the season, as they were able to participate in full-contact practices only a handful of times before starting the season against perennial powerhouses Cardinal O’Hara and Archbishop Wood, which resulted in an 0-2 start. Since then, Neumann-Goretti has rebounded with wins over Bonner-Prendergast and Conwell-Egan before taking a tough loss to Archbishop Carroll over the weekend.
“We’re still trying to figure it out,” Peterson said. “It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. We’ve had limited practice, but as long as we stay together, we’ll hit our stride. If we can dig deep a little bit, we’re going to be really, really good.”
Jordan says her team is rounding into form.
“We started off a little slow,” Jordan said. “But we’ve been able to pick it up and get in a rhythm because we rely on each other more instead of relying on one person to win the game for us like last year.”
Preparation wasn’t easy. When teams weren’t allowed to practice due to COVID restrictions, Jordan helped unite her team with workouts whenever possible, even if it meant just keeping in contact.
“We try to call each other or text each other for open runs if they were available, or get into the gym when we can, so that’s been helpful, but it was way better being able to actually practice again,” she said.
Jordan says she’s undecided on where she plans to attend college next year but hopes basketball is in her future. Right now, she’s just thankful that there is indeed a high school basketball season after some doubt lingered surrounding the pandemic.
“I was really disappointed at the beginning of the season because it wasn’t looking good,” Jordan said. “But I was really glad our coach was able to tell us that we were going to play and finish out my senior year with an actual season.”