Antiesha Brown – New Mexico Basketball

“Honestly, I just remember bumping into the middle school, seventh grade girl’s basketball coach, and he had never seen me before. We had just moved from Turkey and in Europe, soccer is the big deal. If you weren’t playing soccer, you weren’t doing anything great with yourself at all.I was taller than the other girls so he said, ‘Hey, tryouts are on Tuesday. I better see you there, no questions asked.’”

“I barely knew how to spell basketball, nevertheless dribble one. High school was definitely the turning point for me. I think that’s when I found my really competitive drive. I wanted to be the best person on my team and then I wanted to be the best person in the state.. Basketball really became the love of my life in high school. That’s when I really started to appreciate the game, the knowledge behind it, the work ethic of people like Kobe and Diana Taurasi.” 

“My school prior to UNM was a very toxic environment. College sports are almost like a relationship. When you’re being recruited it’s like someone’s courting you. Although I decided to get into a relationship with that first school, I felt like it wasn’t a healthy one. I ended up leaving and gratefully, the position at UNM was filled by Coach Sanchez. Coach Sanchez really pushed academics, which I really respect. Being surrounded by a lot of strong- minded women like myself, gave me the thought, ‘I don’t have any excuses.’ I’d think,  ‘Caroline is third in the whole accounting program at UNM and she’s in the gym almost as much as you are. So you know, there’s really not an excuse to not get better.’”

“As a coach, if you’re not pushing education and if you’re not pushing that bigger picture outside of just being an athlete, you’re doing those young ladies a disservice because you’re not helping them prepare for the real world. The world isn’t always that nice to people or color. I love that Sanchez pushed us. As a Black woman, we have to work hard for what we do and what we get. So I realized early on, ‘I have to get my education.’”

“The reason why I stopped playing basketball was because I tore my MCL. Injuries are very, very mentally trying. When I was injured overseas, and once I was no longer of use, everything changed. It was hard because I went through an identity crisis. I started to feel invisible because I was on the sidelines and no longer in the practices, no longer in the games. My self-worth started to wander a little bit. That’s why it’s so important to find who you are outside of basketball, because having an injury of any magnitude will definitely take a toll on you mentally if your whole identity is based around basketball. That was probably one of the darkest moments of my life; being overseas by myself injured.”

“I think it’s important for athletes to be thinking, “Am I giving too much at this point?” I mean, like I said, it’s just like a relationship. If you invest so much into something and you’re not getting enough in return, it might be time to step away. That’s kind of how I felt about it. Although I didn’t get to play one final game of my career because I was injured, I was really at peace with my career. I didn’t feel like I had anything more to prove.”

“I would tell my younger self that the stress you will endure during all of this will make you grow. Don’t be afraid of the adversity that you’ll face throughout college and at the professional level. I’d  also tell my younger self to stretch and hydrate a little bit better. All that hard work, all the pain, the tears, the injuries, everything, it builds your character, it makes you who you are. So embrace that.”

“I hope to see more athletes speaking up on certain incidents that occur and different things that are happening in the Black community because at the end of the day, those athletes go home and take off their beautiful jerseys and they’re still a Black man or woman. It’s definitely nice to see them speak up on those injustices. If it takes your favorite basketball player to educate you, then so be it.”

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