Jaida Patrick Credit: Columbia Athletics photo

There hasn’t been a single season of Jaida Patrick’s collegiate career that hasn’t been impacted by the pandemic. While this year hasn’t been without interruptions, the junior guard who began her college playing days at Duke University said she’s incredibly happy with her transfer to Columbia University and is pleased to be part of the Lions’ emergence as a powerhouse presence.

After canceling a game against Hofstra and postponing two Ivy League conference games, Columbia was back in action last weekend, defeating long-time rival Harvard. The team takes on Cornell this afternoon.

“I feel we’ve been working really hard and we were all super excited to go back in,” said Patrick. “I’m excited to start playing and get back in the groove.”

Attending an academically and intellectually demanding university has been a priority for Patrick, who was on the dean’s list at Saddle River Day (NJ). “We try to stick to a schedule and plan our days—let’s handle basketball, really go at it, and then after that let’s focus in on academics,” said Patrick, a sociology major, of how she prioritizes both athletics and academics. After deciding to leave Duke, she chose Columbia for the overall culture of the team. Her brother played football at Cornell and encouraged her to check out the Ivy League. A huge draw was the idea of building a legacy, which coach Megan Griffith has been doing season by season.

Although the Ivy League canceled the entire 2020-’21 basketball season, Columbia’s players connected off campus and continued to practice while attending classes virtually. Patrick joined a team determined to sustain the momentum it had established in the 2019-’20 season.

“I felt I really connected with the coaches,” Patrick said. “The environment is unlike anything I’ve experienced before and it really drew me to this program. … The trajectory of where we’re going. I’m really grateful to be part of something so special.”

Playing close to home, it’s been nice to have her parents come to games. Right now, Columbia is not allowing spectators, but she’s hopeful they’ll be back courtside by the end of the season.

“I’m super close to my family, so that was another thing that attracted me to Columbia,” said Patrick. “Being less than an hour from home is definitely something I am grateful for. It’s been great being able to see them. … Even though this [team] is my second family, it’s nice to be around your first family as well. It’s great being in the city I grew up near.”

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