Watching from the Sidelines: Darcy Goede’s Perspective of College Basketball

As a parent, all you want is for your child to succeed.

You lend them your own life’s insight and guide them towards a path of a happy, fulfilled life. You also must watch your child fail. It is inevitable for them to get knocked down, and you teach them how to get back up. But what happens when mistakes are made on a national level? When your child is being criticized and ridiculed by complete strangers twice their age?

No one teaches you how to handle constant criticism, abide by hundreds of rules, and still live a normal life. Darcy Goede, the mother of BIG Ten college basketball star Jamison Battle, has had to navigate the ins and outs of the NCAA for four years running. The moral of the story: what happens off the court is just as powerful as what happens on it.

Goede is a single parent to her only son, Jamison. She has invested so much of her life—physically, emotionally, and financially—to his basketball career. Through countless hours of individual training sessions, practices, traveling, and games, she is his number one fan and supporter. Like many parents, she would give anything to see him pursue and succeed. When the opportunity arose for Battle to play Division 1 college basketball, it was a testament to all the hard work they both had put in. With full-ride scholarship offers from seven schools, Battle and Goede decided that George Washington University, in Washington DC, was the best place for him.

“He wasn’t ready for a high-level program,” said Goede. “He got to play right away and grow as a player. A lot of the time when you go straight to the bigger programs they recruit over you, and if one thing is for certain it’s that we just wanted him to play. Plus think about the DC experience; you cannot beat being eight blocks from the White House and all of the monuments. He used to call me after games as he walked around the National Mall to clear his head, not a lot of people can say that. There is nothing I would change about GW. We don’t regret a thing.”

The first year proved to be a success for the Battle family. The relationships made and the growth as a player Jamison experienced will always be near and dear to their hearts. But like many college freshmen in 2020, the year was cut short due to the coronavirus. Being hauled back to Minnesota wasn’t ideal by any means for a college athlete, but when he returned, almost everything had changed.

“The coaching staff was different, I couldn’t go to the games, the protests, and the rioters in DC with the inauguration and the insurgence you know. It was a parent’s nightmare honestly. Things got so bad at one point they moved all of the players out of DC, then Jamison got COVID and a concussion on top of that I mean he didn’t play for 45 days . There was nothing I could do about it.”

That was when they made the collective decision to enter the transfer portal. In 2021, the name, image, and likeness (NIL) legislation was finally passed and became a massive influence on where college athletes continued their education. While it hadn’t impacted Battle quite yet, he still made the decision to step onto a larger stage, joining the BIG 10 and returning to his home state to become a Minnesota Golden Gopher. While returning to his hometown may have been a relief, entering a more competitive conference was a culture shock for Battle and Goede.

“For him, the transitions were tough because of the friendships he made, but many of them were leaving anyway. But also I think the transition was a little easier because of COVID, they were all struggling mentally, and not having family or friends around to support you is rough, we couldn’t come to anything. On the other hand, the BIG 10 was a bit of a culture shock initially because of the physicality of the league. Going from a mid-major to a Power Five conference school was tough for him until he got comfortable. For me, I felt so confident that he had prepared himself in the best possible way he could. He’s put so much effort into bettering himself on and off the court it just makes me proud.”

However, what the Battle family couldn’t prepare for was the stark difference in fans and media coverage they suddenly faced. Being a native of Minneapolis, all eyes were on him to perform. Yet, the media only sees a fraction of who Battle truly is. It didn’t take long for both of them to go dark on their social media pages, attempting to silence the voices of strangers.

“As a parent, you have to stay off of social media because they just attack your kid left and right, regardless if you’re doing well or if you’re sucking. You know, like they don’t take into account some of it too. They don’t know you, and then they’re out there attacking him. I mean from the foot surgery he had, you know, like going through the medical stuff, what the doctors really say. And then they don’t know him personally, what he goes through. And so I think that it is really hard. Luckily, Jameson chooses to stay off of social media; he doesn’t go on Twitter, I know he still has his Instagram but he shut down the DMs because they’re like people are nasty from that aspect.”

Goede knew that entering the transfer portal was just the tip of the iceberg for her son. After the season ended in the Spring, they made the decision to utilize the extra year of eligibility due to COVID and transfer to Ohio State University. The transfer portal became chaotic with the new NCAA rules in place, and major changes occurred across college basketball. As one of the Gophers’ leading players last year, the media, fans, and staff responded with bitterness.

“It’s not like he’s a traitor to Minnesota, either. People feel like they have the ability to say whatever about your kid, and you just have to let them. It’s so much pressure to be a college athlete, it’s a full time job, and unless you’re in it you don’t really understand it.”

Making a decision of this magnitude was incredibly stressful. However, for the Battle family, it was a business decision. The opportunity to earn money, compete at a higher level, and have a different college experience were all significant factors in their commitment to the Buckeyes.

“This whole process is insane. I mean the NIL deals are something huge to consider, but also where he will get to play and the competition he is going up against. We met with so many different coaching staffs in such a short period of time, but it feels good from a parents perspective to have your kid be so highly valued. He’s also never been on a true college campus, and college sports at Ohio State are huge. I think it just made the most sense, and I’m really excited for him to get there and get working. We’ve been through so much with different teams and places and rule changes, it feels like we’re finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s bittersweet.”

Indeed, it is a bittersweet moment for the Battle family. Darcy Goede has witnessed college basketball at its highest and lowest moments, and everything in between. Being a parent of a college athlete requires understanding, empathy, and a great deal of patience. In Goede’s own words, “It takes a village and then some, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.”