Sophomore guard/forward Tamara James has a lot to be thankful for. Besides being a team leader in just her second year with the Hurricanes, she leads the Big East in scoring with an average of 21 points a game entering into the 2003-04 season. She is also fifth in the conference in rebounds (7.9 per game) and third in field goal percentage.
James knows that without sacrifice, none of these accomplishments would have been possible.
“Every family has to go through a lot,” James said. “Your family goes through the struggles they go through to keep your family together, and that’s just inspired me.”
Her inspiration for being an athlete also stemmed from family interests.
“Everybody in my family played sports pretty much so I was always around it,” James said. “I played volleyball, football, anything I could get my hands on. But my dad played basketball a lot so I guess that’s what stuck with me.”
When she started playing competitively during middle school, James quickly stood out from her peers on the court by fighting hard to be seen.
“I started playing organized basketball in the seventh grade,” she said. “Middle school basketball is nothing but lay-ups and a bunch of kids running around; high school is more organized. I had to get physical because everyone else was bigger than me.”
Before high school and during her freshman year, Tamara played ball for the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) and was able to travel around the country. She remembers being struck by the memorials in Oklahoma City shortly after the bombing of the Federal Building had occurred in 1995.
Back in Florida, James led South Broward High School (Dania, FL) to back-to-back state championships in 2000 and 2001. Without traveling far, she found the place she knew she’d be happy continuing at.
“[UM] is close to home and I like the coaches and their style of coaching, and I had a lot of fun on my visit,” she said. “The academics and the basketball program are great.”
The liberal arts major and theater minor is focusing hard on the now, both in the classroom and on the court. Future plans, James contends, will not take away the attention that the present needs, especially during basketball season.
“It [the WNBA] appeals to me, but I kind of want to go overseas also-I don’t really know about that yet,” she said.
James looks inside to help her appreciate life on the outside. For her, basketball is a way of life, one that many people would give a lot to be a part of. In recognizing that, she focuses on her strengths more than her weaknesses.
“I think about playing hard…I think about working on the things that we work on in practice, how to be disciplined, and how to play with your teammates,” she said. “I don’t really look at it as a million people watching me. When I’m out there I’m just playing…I’m down to earth with everybody. It just makes me count my blessings and not my problems because…you always think about the person who never made it and who would die to be in your shoes and everything, and you just suck it up and go out there and play hard.”
Melissa Teich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.