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Basketball beast

How Yaniah Curry became one of Central’s best

Olivia Fong

Olivia Fong

Justin Hedrick, Staff reporter

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Being a varsity athlete and taking the responsibility of being a starter is an extremely successful and difficult task. Doing it as an underclassman is almost unheard of, save for some sophomores. Yet some of the most elite athletes you’ll ever find started on varsity as a freshman. This means that these people were competing against 18 year old athletes at just 14-or-so years old. That’s about the same as putting an 8th grader against college athletes.

Yaniah Curry is one of the select few who was talented enough to hold her own on the court with anyone as a freshman. She has started on the Varsity team all of her 3 years at Central.

Coach Leake, head coach of the Girls Basketball team at FHC, came to Spartan Nation four years ago; she immediately began pulling up a select few freshman to fill spots on her varsity roster. Not as backups, though. No, for Leake the freshmen are on the same level as all of her other players. Ashley Roland, a senior who has been a great leader for the girls team, doesn’t think anything of freshmen playing up.

“Especially in our program, its just kind of normal for us to have freshmen around,” said senior Ashley Roland. “And I think that by the end of the season they fit in and we just forget that they’re even younger than us because they are so good.”

The team of upperclassmen don’t really think anything of sharing playing time with younger players. They know that it is important to grow the team, so they take the young players under their wing and the team is better because of it. Makenzie Schierding was in the same situation as Curry, but in the first year that Leake was a coach at central. She knows first hand what it is like to play as a freshman.

“[Leake] had the same expectations whether you were a freshman or a senior,” said Makenzie Schierding, a senior who also started on varsity as a freshman. “[Leake] expected you to give your best all the time. We know we need [underclassmen]. They’re good, so if you can play I don’t care how old you are as long as you are mature out there.”

The type of culture that has been created by mixing athletes of all ages is one of development. They are willing to bring in and help any teammate who has potential and is willing to work. The team has had successful season after successful season because they don’t care about who the other people are, they care about the game and how they can find a way to make each other better.

“[The seniors] showed us the ropes,” recalled Curry. “Kinda the culture that Leake enforces that you take care of the little kids, you show them the ropes, take them under your wing,” Curry said.

Taking the risk of starting a freshman paid off for Leake and the team. Curry quickly became a leader at a young age and has been a star for the Spartans for the last three years. She is on track to be a four year varsity starter on a very competitive team; a feat not easily accomplished.

“She is just a beast,” Schierding said.

She was able to inspire and help teammates both younger and older than her, and even as a sophomore she was able to take on responsibilities of a senior.  

“Next year she is definitely going to step up and be a super good leader,” predicts Roland confidently. “She was a pretty good leader this year and we will see what she has in it next year too,” Roland said.

Yaniah Curry has definitely made waves in Spartan Nation, and she will continue to do so in years to come, thanks to her leadership and devotion to making her team better. She has been one of the greats to pass through Francis Howell Central and she still has one more season to come back even stronger.

“[I] most definitely feel like [starting as a freshman] gave me more experience than if I were to come into it and start varsity my junior year,”Curry said. “I would still kind of have to adapt, but I don’t have to. I’m just kind of ready.”

Curry is now the leader of the girls basketball team. She knows exactly how to handle the responsibility, and she knows what she needs to work on with her team to be successful. Leake’s decision to bring freshmen up to varsity has definitely made a major impact on Curry’s life, and has definitely made the team more successful.

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