Residence: Oklahoma City
Jari Askins bought her tickets to the NCAA women's basketball regional in Oklahoma City months ago, confident Oklahoma would be playing in Chesapeake Energy Arena this weekend.
It turns out Askins was right; the former Oklahoma lieutenant governor rarely misses an OU women's basketball game, and can also be regularly spotted at various other athletic events around the state.
Askins, who grew up in Duncan, served eight years as a Stephens County special judge, spent 12 years in the state House of Representatives and in 2006 was elected lieutenant governor, a post she held for one four-year term.
Askins won the Democratic Party's nomination for governor in 2010, but was defeated in the general election. Today, she serves as associate provost for external relations at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
In my family, you had to promise to play golf before you could be born. Golf was our family activity. My parents were very good golfers, and my brother and sister both lettered at OU. We didn't have a high school team. We played growing up and played tournaments in the summer.
In the summers, we played softball. I loved playing softball; I think that's where I really started learning to love team sports.
When I was in junior high and high school, the only sport we had for girls was tennis, so I played tennis.
Golf is probably the first sport where I learned rules. I really think that learning to play golf and learning the rules of golf really helped establish a lot of my foundation for ethics and integrity.
My mother used to always tell us, “Golf is the only sport where you call a penalty on yourself.”
We took that really seriously. Rules became important to me because of golf. I do think later in my career, that sense of right and wrong got reinforced because of playing by the rules.
It helped me develop that sense that some things are right, and some things are wrong. Even if people don't see you do something, it's still wrong.
I think everything that I learned through those activities certainly translated later into working in the office, being collegial there. Knowing that your co-workers have different strengths, and certainly if you're trying to build a leadership team, in making sure that you find people with different strengths and put them in the best spots. I think all of that goes back to learning it in an athletic competition.
Title IX probably passed while I was a junior in college. It didn't become effective until right as I graduated. I don't think some of us knew the significance at the time. I remember thinking I was gonna get to play on a women's golf team at OU before I graduated, but they didn't get it started in time. My sister got to play on the very first women's golf team back before they had scholarships.
After Title IX, more schools invested in more sports for girls. I don't think we realized for a number of years the opportunities that would be provided for young women to earn scholarships and be able to go to college, where they might not have had the resources otherwise.
My parents were for OU, then they were for any other school in the state of Oklahoma, then they were for any other school in the conference — except my dad always had a hard time once Texas joined the Big 12.
I grew up with that being something I saw my parents doing together, and they enjoyed having the children go with them. It was a family event.
I started going to the OU women's games probably in the late 1990s. Former speaker Loyd Benson used to go down to the games sometimes during session. One time, he invited myself and a couple other women representatives to go with him, and I got hooked.
I went to San Antonio and watched when we made the Final Four and the championship game in 2002. I loved watching those young women compete with all the talent and all the heart that they had. They were passionate about their work in basketball the way I felt about public service.
I felt, as a woman, it was important to be supportive of OU basketball. And I often went to the OSU Cowgirl games, too. Coach (Kurt) Budke and I were friends.
As much as it's being supportive, sometimes that's my outlet. As a state representative, I used to laugh and tell my colleagues that they should want me to go to the games, because I could yell at the officials and get my frustrations out so I didn't yell at my colleagues at work.
Once a judge, always a judge. I've been known to have an opinion on a call or two.