Posts Tagged ‘high school basketball’

I stayed up late last night reading a story that truly moved me.

I came across it on ESPN Rise, an online publication that celebrates high school athletes. It was there that I found the story of Tierra Rogers, a young promising basketball player from San Francisco, California.

[I’m going to try and explain it, but I’m not going to do it justice. I highly encourage you to read the whole story on ESPN Rise].

Basketball had been a big part of Tierra Rogers’ life and relationship with her father, “Terray” (Terell) Rogers.

Like many dads, Terray was Tierra’s biggest fan.

As a former gang member (and ex-con), Terray’s life was changed when Tierra, his daughter, came into the world. He decided to dedicate himself to “cleaning up some of the mess he created”  on the streets. He often acted as a mediator to street arguments and conflicts, saving lives and bringing together the community.

As Tierra grew up, she and her dad spent many days on the basketball courts of San Francisco. Also, her “godfather” Guy Hudson, a former friend of Terray’s from the streets, started coaching Tierra privately.

It is on those courts in San Francisco that Tierra got good… real good. So good, in fact, that she went on to play at Sacred Heart Academy.

Of course, her dad was her biggest supporter. He gave her pep talks before games and was the loudest fan in the gym… always sitting in the first row, cheering her on.

But when Tierra was in her junior year, her cousin, Zakeel, was murdered on the streets (rumor is it was gang related).

This is something that affected her father, Terray, very deeply , and he stopped mediating the streets and started showing signs of frustration. Rumors were going around that he wanted to seek “revenge” on those that killed Zakeel. These were untrue, but Terray showed signs of concern.

And then it happened.

On January 12th, 2008, Terray was at his daughter’s high school basketball game.

At halftime, when he went outside for his typical cigarette, he was gunned down by two strangers.

And Tierra was left alone to cope. No more pep talks, no more first-row cheering. A few days later, ESPN wrote a piece about how she was struggling to cope.

I can’t even imagine the pain she’s been through or how she even begins to feel about basketball.

But what I can attest to is her strength – her strength to move on. Because she promised her dad that no matter what, she would always play, Tierra is still playing hard.

She’s set to play at Cal next year – and hopes to make the McDonald’s All-American Team.

I’d like to wish Tierra the best of luck – and let her know that she has my support. Cal is lucky to have grabbed her.

[To read the entire story, go to ESPN Rise].

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A junior basketball star from Houston Texas is turning heads in the sports arena. At only 16 years of age, Brittney Griner is leading her area in scoring, blocked shots, dunks, and being tall (she stands at 6’8″). Her dunks and blocks have virally exploded on the internet; you easily find videos of her posted on YouTube.

A post written in Yahoo Sports back in February questioned whether or not she could play in the NBA. Blogger J.E. Skeets says her athletic ability would “mean nothing” in the NBA. He said trying to defend strong, athletic powerhouses would be “impossible.”

The feminist in me wants to disagree with him vehemently, but the logical part of me has to agree with his comparison on the surface. But there is a bigger problem here, and it has to do with our culture, and our values.

As someone with a degree in exercise science, I understand that the primary factor influencing the “muscle” aspect of sport performance is testosterone, and it’s something that women lack. Testosterone is the primary muscle building hormone, and higher levels of testosterone in the blood stream lead to larger muscle mass and lower body fat levels.

So basically what Griner has against her is that, despite being incredibly tall, comfortable on the court and able to block shots and slam dunk is the fact that she doesn’t have testosterone streaming through her veins. Essentially, she can’t play in the NBA because she is a girl. But really, it’s that she can’t play in the NBA because they allow these guys to be unnecessarily aggressive. Because aggressive is what sells.

What you need to consider is where our values are as a culture, and these values reflect back to fans, which reflect back to advertising, is money and power.  In sport, the primary draw is the “muscle” or the physical contact. When you take those things out, what do you have? Sound fundamentals, pure jump shots, court awareness, an increased percentage of three pointers, creativity and flow. I believe it’s what many women would consider an even playing field.

Jeets is 100% correct in assuming that the first woman to effectively compete in the NBA will most likely be “short, lightning-quick point guard with great decision-making skills and a jumpshot.”

But I think that day is far, because the NBA still allows a considerable amount of physical contact. This is the type of contact that would throw a girl with those characteristics (or any girl for that matter) into the bleachers with a simple shove from a guy like Rudy Gay. The NBA would have to re-evaluate the amount of physical contact that is permitted in the game, which, in my opinion, would make it that much greater.

Regardless, it’s safe to say that Griner is a player to watch this season (and many other seasons after that), and I hope she’s out there this summer kicking some ass on the courts of Houston, showing men everywhere that a woman can compete just as hard as any man.

Oh, and her dunks look just as cool. Check out this video.

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