Meet: Jasmine Minor — Emmy-winning Investigative Reporter & Former DI Athlete
“I don’t know if there’s another trio of three Black sisters who all played Division I tennis,” she said, curiosity settling in.
In that singular moment, Emmy Award-winning investigative reporter Jasmine Minor with WISH-TV 8 uncovered how big of a trailblazer she actually is along with her sisters Kristina and Brienne Minor.
It was their entire childhood and adolescence that prepared them to become DI athletes, Brienne going as far as becoming the first African American woman to ever win the NCAA Women’s Singles title. Arthur Ashe had made history as the first Black man to win the NCAA singles title in 1965.
Jasmine Minor, now an Indianapolis journalist, shared what it was like growing up competing in USTA tournaments around the country—around the world.
“How many times did we go to Cracker Barrel in Arizona for Christmas, New Years and Thanksgiving,” asked Minor rhetorically. “All the holidays were taken up and birthdays. We were on the road.”
Minor and her sisters grew up mainly playing tennis in Chicago (where they lived) and Indianapolis, coming from two parents who knew how to play the sport but never competed.
“I think we started [playing tennis] because my parents had us when they were pretty young. So a lot of times we would spend the summers in Indianapolis where my grandparents were.” Where a lot of tennis summer camps happened.
Then from around four years old, Minor began following in her sister’s footsteps. “Kristina was competing… I used to get dragged around to her tournaments, and eventually, Bri used to get dragged to all of mine,” she said. “Later, I’m sure my parents had full scholarships in the back of their heads for college, but we never really thought about that. It was just something that we followed along with as sisters.”
The Division I teams they played for were: the University of Illinois—Kristina; the University of Oregon—Jasmine; and the University of Michigan—Brienne, and each one of them accomplished personal goals, but Jasmine remembers the challenges.
She called her college tennis career, “a pretty difficult time,” in her life. “I was going through so much off the court and it affected my tennis game on the court, but something that is so great about college tennis is all the lessons you learn. Oregon is where I learned about my interest in journalism…”
“You know, I see a difference in college tennis now. There’s more conversations about mental health. There’s more conversations about athletes being more than athletes. I don’t think those conversations were necessarily had when I was playing, not in the same way. Especially not when my older sister was playing. I was the only Black girl on the team and I never realized how much that would affect me… So I think a lot of the conversations we see surrounding social justice and being inclusive— they’re so awesome because they’re the best way to make sure that athletes are taken care of.”
Minor plays tennis a lot less since she started working in news. She has very little free time. “Last time I really played I think I was warming up my baby sister for the US Open. That was 2017.”
In the years following Jasmine’s tennis career, it’s words of wisdom from her parents that remain steadfast in her mind.
“They were all about work ethic. It didn’t matter what we picked to do—if we wanted to play basketball or be a ballerina, an actress, a scientist—the rule was, you had to give it 110 percent. You had to work at it. Didn’t necessarily have to be the best, but there wasn’t room for being lazy or throwing away money… My parents instilled that very early on, and that went for anything. Like Kristina is now Associate Athletic Director of Northwestern. Bri will be going on the pro tour… We took that work ethic with us into our careers. I remember my dad saying to me, ‘Someone might be better than you. That’s fine. Just don’t let them outwork you.’ And of course, as parents, they wanted us to be happy and healthy and do something we thoroughly enjoyed.”
“When I was 10 my dad put me on his lap and said, ‘Jasmine it’s so great that you have these big goals, but giving back is more important,’” remembered Jasmine. “He said, ‘You can be the person who goes down to the river and grabs a bucket and fills it up and brings it back to the village. Those people are important. Or you can be the person who pays for hundreds of people to have bottled water. That person is important too. Or you can be the person who builds the entire water filtration system and you change generations. It doesn’t matter which person you are, but if you have the opportunity to be the person who creates the water filtration system, you take that opportunity.’ My goal since the beginning of my career is to tell amazing stories… and give a voice to people that might not have a voice.”
As a reporter, Jasmine created a three-part series following the lives of Black athletes. She shared the stories of NFL players facing barriers and hate speech among other forms of prejudice.
“I love being able to take time and tell that story where athletes are so much more. They’re human beings and they’re people.”
When discussing sports, Jasmine is reminded of her own experiences playing and watching tennis.
“There’s so much rich diversity and culture that can be in tennis,” Minor stated. “I think nowadays [tennis] is a bit more welcoming. You even see it with the players on tour… I speak this from the American side. If you look at the Americans who are playing right now, you see a lot more Black women than you’ve seen before when there was just the Williams sisters. You see a lot more women of color. That’s really exciting.”
For Minor as a child, that empowerment and seeing success from other female tennis players around the Chicago area, including her sister Kristina, it’s part of the reason she wanted to play. “I’ve always been an extrovert. I’ve always been competitive. So I think I felt very comfortable on the court and very confident.”
Jasmine remembers growing up in Chicago— it was a competitive tennis hub! Mark Bey was with other well-known coaches from around the country, and they taught at academies right in the heart of Chicagoland.
“By the time I became a teenager, probably like half of the top 50 girls that were nationally ranked were from Chicago,” Minor said. “The city was full of good tennis players!”
Overall, the competitive environment shaped Jasmine and her sisters’ lives.
Jasmine did play on her high school tennis team her sophomore and senior years, as a chance, “to enjoy being a kid.” But her family spent most of their time planning for the next USTA tournaments, with Jasmine’s dad planning out each of his daughter’s flights so meticulously whenever competitions were apart.
“My dad would try to time out our layovers so that we could at least see each other at the airport, at least be able to say hi. Because we were all on the road for weeks straight.”
“I missed a lot of homecomings. I missed sleepovers. I missed football games,” said Jasmine, who admits tennis can be ruthless for athletes.
“It’s a tough sport. You’re out there by yourself… You are your team… If you really listen to us, like when we go back to the fence to get a ball, we are very hard on ourselves… We can be really mean to ourselves, especially women.”
Yet it’s that grit, those lessons and work ethic she gained from her family and her sport that made her resilient.
For now, Jasmine Minor’s goal is to add to her resume as many Emmy wins as possible by sharing essential news stories from those around her, and doing good by them too.
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