Brooklyn Boro

George Bernard Shaw was wrong this time

May 20, 2024 Andy Furman
Howard University freshman Imani Jean.
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George Bernard Shaw certainly was not talking about Imani Jean when he famously said: “Youth is wasted on the young.”

In fact, he later expounded upon his derogatory remark about young people of the day that, “They’re brainless, and don’t know what they have; they squander every opportunity of being young, on being young.”

Sorry – that is not Imani Jean.

Brooklyn-born Imani Jean is a freshman standout tennis performer at Howard University, Washington, D.C.
In fact, she became the second Bison since 2005 to win the illustrious Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Rookie of the Year honor – Brittany Morgan captured it in 2010.
Tennis was – and is everything – for Jean. “My mom was watching Serena (Williams) playing in the U.S.Open,” Jean told the Eagle by phone the other day, “And she enrolled me in a USTA workshop program.”
Almost forgot to mention, Jean was six at the time.
And tennis immediately took over Imani Jean’s life.

“I attended Royal Springs School, an on-line school in California for high school,” she said. “While I trained at the Junior Tennis Champions Center (JCC) in College Park, Md.”

Eventually, she left Fort Greene behind, relocated to Maryland, “For higher, intense training.”

A predominately white sport seemed unusual for a young Black woman from Brooklyn. “I was the first one in my family to play tennis,” she said, “I have two brothers– one younger who is a tennis player and another who plays basketball at Howard University.”

Howard was the choice – for two specific reasons – the HBCU culture – and the chance to play tennis with all Black players.

But as easy for Imani Jean to perform on the tennis is court, well, it was a different kind of challenge enrolling and finding a college.

“I was injured during my high school junior year,” she said. “I wrote letters and sent e-mails to various schools, on my own.”

And for all her previous success, Imani Jean was, gulp, a walk-on at Howard.
No scholarship.

“My first semester,” she said, “I was an Academic scholar. “The second semester I was on scholarship.”

And rightly so.

Imani Jean dominated the competition in her first year as a Bison, collecting Rookie of the Week five times while going 13-3 in singles play, including a perfect 5-0 in conference competition.

She finished the season with a nine-match singles win streak – dating back to March 22nd – and she was named to the MEAC All-Tournament Team.

Let’s not forget about Imani Jean’s architect – her mom.

“Mom is quite proud of me, for sure,” Jean says, “And she came out this season to see me play against Morgan State.

“She was impressed on how I was focused and locked in and with my composure,” she said.

The Finance Major says she thought the competition was fierce when she was in New York. “Clearly, it’s way better (competition) in college.”

As for her college performance, the 5-6 freshman said: “I am not totally surprised with my success. I am, though, surprised with the attention I have gotten. I didn’t expect Rookie of the Year in the conference.

“But,” she quickly added, “I would love to continue playing after college, I have a long way to go.”

Maybe youth is wasted on the young – for some.
Imani Jean proved that statement was false — on the tennis court.

Andy Furman is a Fox Sports Radio national talk show host. Previously, he was a scholastic sports columnist for the Brooklyn Eagle. He may be reached at: [email protected] ; Twitter: @AndyFurmanFSR

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