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Stuart steps into new leadership role as sophomore on varsity

Sophomore+Calayiah+Stuart+gets+her+hands+up+to+block+a+shot+during+a+preaseason+practice.+Stuart+came+off+of+the+bench+as+a+freshman+last+year%2C+but+is+preparing+for+a+much+bigger+role+this+season%2C+as+the+team+became+much+younger+with+the+graduation+of+key+contributors+such+as+Marissa+Madden+and+Constance+Komara.+
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Stuart steps into new leadership role as sophomore on varsity

Sophomore Calayiah Stuart gets her hands up to block a shot during a preaseason practice. Stuart came off of the bench as a freshman last year, but is preparing for a much bigger role this season, as the team became much younger with the graduation of key contributors such as Marissa Madden and Constance Komara.

Sophomore Calayiah Stuart gets her hands up to block a shot during a preaseason practice. Stuart came off of the bench as a freshman last year, but is preparing for a much bigger role this season, as the team became much younger with the graduation of key contributors such as Marissa Madden and Constance Komara.

Noah Siderhurst

Sophomore Calayiah Stuart gets her hands up to block a shot during a preaseason practice. Stuart came off of the bench as a freshman last year, but is preparing for a much bigger role this season, as the team became much younger with the graduation of key contributors such as Marissa Madden and Constance Komara.

Noah Siderhurst

Noah Siderhurst

Sophomore Calayiah Stuart gets her hands up to block a shot during a preaseason practice. Stuart came off of the bench as a freshman last year, but is preparing for a much bigger role this season, as the team became much younger with the graduation of key contributors such as Marissa Madden and Constance Komara.

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Basketball has always been a normal activity for sophomore Calayiah Stuart. From the time she was seven, she has participated in some form of basketball, whether it was the recreational center or at the high school.

As a freshman point guard, Stuart learned first hand from the five seniors that basketball is about never going less than 100 percent.

“They taught me to go hard at everything. I learned the benefits of going hard in practice. They taught me how to be a leader and to trust the process,” Stuart said.

Aside from learning how to be a better leader as a freshman, Stuart quickly found that the difference between a 14 and 18 year old is a significant advantage, but also a big motivator to work harder. In addition to the age gap, Stuart stands under five feet tall making her well below average in height for a high school basketball player.

Angel Hendrix
Sophomore Calayiah Stuart runs to the opposite end in an attempt to score a two pointer for the girls basketball team as they face off against James Wood.

“Going into the game and playing against 18 year old girls that are just bigger and stronger people got me [to be]better as a basketball player because it made me try harder and want to compete more and win,” Stuart said.

Last year’s team consisted of mostly seniors and sophomores. While the age difference may have seemed like a major barrier to the teams success, the girls learned to work with everyone including their strengths and weaknesses.

“We all practiced together and everybody contributed in their own way. It doesn’t matter your skill, you still have a role on the team,” Stuart said.  

The team worked hard on and off the court to achieve their 17-6 record. Head coach Durmount Perry, assistant coaches Mark Neofotis, Shakeerah Sykes, Andre Nation and Brianna Partlow all contributed to make sure the team was always prepared.

“[The coaches] have been very strict and really hard on me, and it makes me want to try harder. They are really chill people, and they can be helpful with school and just helping me in general. They taught me how to not take things personal and how to be disciplined, “ Stuart said.

Since five seniors graduated from the varsity team last year,the majority of the team this year will be freshmen and sophomores. Although the underclassmen will be unfamiliar with playing at a higher level, Stuart believes the team will go far in the season.

“We’re going undefeated, and if not, we’re [at least beating Spotswood. We’re going to be good, and I know that if we have the mentality, we’re going to beat them. If we work hard in practices and try hard, then we will beat them,” Stuart said. “You have to learn the freshmen’s strengths and weaknesses to be able to click with them quickly.”

Averaging 2.7 points per game, 1.4 assists per game and 1.6 rebounds per game, Stuart was a consistent contributor to last year’s team and helped the team on both the offensive and defensive ends.

“Calayiah gave us great energy off the bench last year. She has good defense and is asked to defend the point guards of other teams,” Perry said. “Calayiah can also put points on the board, she has a good shot and can also handle the ball well.“

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Stuart steps into new leadership role as sophomore on varsity