PrideTime Senior Editor
Since fourth grade, Aija Andrews has been surrounded by basketball. On February 13, 2019 she will be saying goodbye to her basketball career of eight years. However, being a basketball player and a scholar is something that she has crashed and burned with.
Freshman year (‘15), Andrews came into McMahon with the mentality of making the varsity girls basketball team and work hard for a scholarship. She was able to balance her grades and not worry about the 1.6 limit GPA to be apart of McMahon Athletics.
“My freshman year I was more dedicated to my work, my grades were good, and I feel like I put more effort into playing then, than I do now.”
Now fast forwarding to Andrews senior year, the 5’10 forward-center has struggled more throughout her years of high school which almost affected her participation in the McMahon Girls Basketball program. However, with the support of her family and friends she was able to push through.
“As school got harder I started to become lazy, not doing any assignments, skipping class a lot, and worrying about the wrong things. The beginning of my senior year I was close to not playing the first half of my season because I waited last minute of the quarter to start doing my work and bringing my grades up.”
Not only were her grades a downfall in her athletic career, but due to a tear in her rotator cuff, Andrews was limited sophomore year playing basketball. She had to sit out during practices because she wasn’t able to shoot the ball without feeling pain, yet she would never complain about it when it came to game time. She started doing physical therapy to cope with it.
“I joined volleyball my sophomore year not having a clue about what it was. When I found out I had the tear in my cuff, I had to choose between, volleyball, basketball, or nothing at all. I obviously chose basketball but I had to be very careful because this injury could mean the end to my career.”
Her mother has been her supporter throughout everything. Growing up it’s been the two of them together through it all. Their bond is very strong and without her support, Andrews wouldn’t be the person she is today.
“She never misses a game, she always took her time out of her day 24/7 to bring me from practices to games. She would have to take time out of her work schedule to travel to all different kinds of places for tournaments, and spend a lot of money for everything. I honestly can say I wouldn’t be able to do anything without her. She is literally my heart, and push in life to be great.”
Throughout Andrews childhood, her goal was to play college basketball and earn a scholarship to play D1. Now that she’s a senior ready to turn to the next chapter of her life, she has second thoughts.
“I have the opportunity to play from a lot of colleges, but when I go to college I mostly just want to focus on my school work 24/7, rather than focusing on basketball and having that full commitment to it. I don’t think I would be able to balance sports and education all in one plate.”
Choosing to not play in college has been one of the hardest decisions of her life. Basketball has been a part of her for so long, without it, her life would be different. Basketball helps Andrews keep occupied and releases her emotions to the ball, the court, and the basket.
For those underclassmen who want to play basketball, whether it be in high school or another outside source, Andrews gives them this advice; “Make sure to stay on top of your grades, don’t wait till the last minute to do anything. Work hard in every practice like it’s your last. Keep positivity within your team, especially on the court because having good connection with your teammates builds success. Play with a purpose!”