Cain Receives Offer From Division One Radford Highlanders

Cain+looks+to+pass+the+ball+during+a+practice+for+the+team+she+plays+on+outside+of+school%2C+Elevate+Elite.+

Photo Courtesy of Mariah Cain

Cain looks to pass the ball during a practice for the team she plays on outside of school, Elevate Elite.

Maya Waid, Sports Editor in Chief

“Why would you ask this? I’m already starting to tear up,” Perry said. “I’m going to miss being with the players. In my eyes, it was not just basketball. Each player became a part of my family. I will miss our talks about life. I will miss the smiles. I will miss spending time with each of [the players.]”

Durmount Perry, head coach of the Harrisonburg girls varsity team for the past six years, was brought to tears as he spoke of his decision to step down from his coaching position. Over his years, Perry has coached both boys and girls, football and basketball, and has become a well-known figure in the HHS community. 

When one of Perry’s former players, junior Mariah Cain was on vacation this summer, she received an unexpected call that changed the course of her basketball career. This is the same call Cain has been working to receive over the past few years, but did not expect it to come this early. 

“I was on vacation on the beach and Coach McGuire called me and surprised me with the news. It was just like time froze when he said that to me and I was just so excited. When I got the offer from Radford it was just a blessing, and all the hard work I’ve been doing has just eventually paid off, “ Cain said. 

Radford University, located about two hours south of Harrisonburg in Radford, Virginia, is a division one women’s basketball program. Radford has claimed nine conference titles and appeared in four NCAA titles. After Cain received the offer the summer after her sophomore year, Perry was somewhat surprised at the news. 

“ [When I heard about her offer] I was excited for her. To be honest, I did not [expect an offer this early]. I knew she was going to get offers because of her hard work and determination,” Perry said. “Mariah has worked hard; the biggest area that she has developed was her defense. I hope that she stays humble and continues to work hard. The sky’s the limit.” 

Cain was shocked by the phone call due to the lack of strong prior communication between her and coach McGuire. 

“Before Radford offered me, I had never talked to any coaches there before so it was kind of a surprise when they offered me. We didn’t really have a strong relationship, but now we are talking all the time and building a very strong relationship and learning about the program,” Cain said. 

Although Cain’s high school performance has helped her recruiting process, she believes that the team she played with over the summer, Elevate Elite, has played a main role in helping her gain more exposure. 

“Playing with Elevate Elite got me more game film that I needed to send out to colleges and coaches. The Elevate coaches have helped me a lot with talking and the recruiting process, they have been a big help with everything,” Cain said. 

Not only has Cain gained exposure from her AAU team, but she has also formed bonds with players that she otherwise would not have met. 

“[Playing with] Elevate Elite was a very fun experience. I love playing with girls from all over because you get to experience different types of players and you get to play with other girls in live game situations. It’s nice to get out of town and bring back what I learn from different coaches and players that I meet,” Cain said.

Although the connections she has formed through Elevate Elite are important to her, she has been working to earn a college basketball scholarship for years and is grateful for her teammates in Harrisonburg as well. 

“I have been working to get a scholarship to play college basketball ever since I started playing. I’ve been working hard on and off the court so I can play in college, I’ve just stayed humble through all the adversity and that’s what I have to keep doing until I finish my high school career,” Cain said. “My coaches and the girls I play with [in Harrisonburg] have pushed me to be the best player and teammate I can be. My coaches and my teammates have taught me to be humble and fight through all of the adversity and struggles we have been through as a basketball family and that’s how they have helped me to get where I am now.”

As a former high school basketball player himself, Perry knows that the recruiting process is not easy on the athlete. 

“During the recruitment process, [my advice is to] ask lots of questions, not just about basketball, but [also about] life on campus, how the players feel about the school and their coaches. Once she has picked a school to attend, [I want her to] continue to work hard and grind, because college basketball is a business, and they are always looking for good players,” Perry said. 

Even throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Cain has found ways to play basketball and continue to get new game film over the summer. 

“We have still played in many tournaments throughout the virus. The key is getting a whole bunch of film and highlights to send to coaches and get looks since they can not come in person to see us play. We just have to keep working hard behind closed doors and keep communicating to coaches during the virus,” Cain said. 

Moving forward, Cain plans to continue to grow her skill set and gain more experience as she looks at colleges in her last two years of high school. 

“My plans moving forward are to keep working hard everyday and making myself and the people around me better every single day,” Cain said. “I am talking to a few other schools which include Robert Morris, Furman, Columbia, and Charleston Southern.”

As for Perry, his decision to step away from coaching can best be described as bittersweet. 

“When I reflect back on my time as coach, I wonder if I did a good job. Did the players learn from me, and I’m not talking about basketball. What life skills will they take and use as they grow into caring and responsible adults? All I know is, I will miss these girls,” Perry said. 

 

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