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Lady Spartans: We’ll go ‘Stro’!
Written by: By Joel Priest
Dropping five contests—including a battle against College of Eastern Utah in the Region XVIII Tournament opener—by five points or less had clearly rubbed Antowin Edwards the wrong way. And had stuck with him as he hit the off-season recruiting trail…which swung through Bayfield on Tuesday.
“I lacked offensive firepower past my top three players,” Colorado Northwestern Community College’s skipper admitted. “And a recruiting service I use…her ‘profile’ came up and I said, ‘Hmm…this girl looks like she can really shoot.’ So I kept following, kept following and I had a chance to talk to her, talk to her coach—he was like, ‘Yeah she can really shoot it.’”
Averaging over 14 points per game during BHS’ 20-5, ‘Great Eight’-worthy 2011-12, senior Kayla Strobel not only appeared on CNCC’s ‘radar,’ but also warranted a rigorous, first-hand evaluation.
“Definitely I was out of shape going in there…my body was tired,” Strobel laughed, recalling a near-continuous three-hour run against other prospects and CNCC vets. “I’m like, ‘PEOPLE! You’re out of control!’ I’m running as hard as I can to keep up with these people because they’re just…going!”
“It was a mental thing for me,” she noted. “Like, I know what I need to do now to get ready for college. And kind of what to expect; I can’t wait to get to the level they’re at.”
“I could see myself playing there…and then there was no more question. It was crystal-clear.”
“When she came up on her trial…man, she shot the ball!” exclaimed Edwards. “Knocked shots down, and one thing that I loved about her was…she didn’t do what most kids do when they come for a workout—they miss shots, then start hanging their heads. She didn’t do that.”
And didn’t do it any longer than required to autograph a National Letter-of-Intent inside the Lady Wolverine coaches’ office, with Edwards, BHS boss Ron Posey, mother Karen and sister Laurel observing.
“WOW,” she said through an ear-to-ear smile after committing. “I can’t believe it’s actually time to go to college and play basketball—I’ve been dreaming about it ever since I was a little kid…and now that it’s actually here, it’s still shocking. But I’m definitely really, really excited.”
“Here, we’re used to the competition…mostly. So going to a tougher league is definitely going to be the more exciting part,” she said, of the move from the CHSAA Class 3A Intermountain League to the rugged [NJCAA Division I] Scenic West Athletic Conference.
“Every moment counts, every possession counts—you really learn the value of basketball in college, and I definitely think I’ll learn how much my mistakes will count, and how much I can help a team. I’m ready for college to show me that.”
“She came up and played with some of my girls, took on one of my returners and stayed in front of her,” Edwards said of what Strobel showed the Lady Spartan program. “She showed she can move her feet, is a lot faster than she looks, and she’s also a lot stronger than she looks.”
Which will be vital as Colorado Northwestern looks to continue its ascent—from 3-28 overall in 2009-10, to 7-24 in 2010-11, to 11-20 this past season—under their confident mentor, set to begin his fourth year in Rangely when the 2012-13 campaign tips off.
“She’s a shooter—her job’s to come in and let it go. The second part of her job is to defend, which she’s proven that she can,” he said. “I think once she gets in the weight room, puts some time in there as well as the conditioning phase we do on a regular basis…she’s going to get stronger, and she’s going to be a very effective player for us.”
“If she does what she’s supposed to…there’s no reason for her not to log a lot of minutes.”
“Seeing my sister, two years ago, signing to go to Lamar [Community College] for volleyball…I was sitting there hoping I would be in that position one day—signing with a college who’d want me,” said Strobel, who indicated an preliminary inkling to study either dentistry or business.
“Mom…wanted us to be the best we could be, so my mom was a big part of the kind of player I am today,” she added. “Got all my emotion from my mom. We’ll cry for hours about this.”
But then ultimately smile towards the future.
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