Leila Patel - Texas Interview by Michelle Sicard Nomination by Lily Crane Photography by Christina White & Barry Blalock Issue 20 of Inspiring Teens Magazine
The Nomination: Leila Patel isn't just an incredible basketball player, she is an incredible person. She made Varsity last year as a Freshman, won the Newcomer of the Year award in our district, and this year she leads the team in scoring and definitely our MVP. She made the girls Under Armor team and is an amazing person with a huge heart. She cares about everyone around her and will help anyone in need. She inspires everyone around her to not only try harder in practice but to be a better person. I couldn't have made it the last two years without her and I have a feeling a lot of people in her life think that same way!
Explain the role basketball plays in your life and what it means to you. Basketball has been in my life for a long time because of my little brother. I watched him play countless games and then decided to give it a try myself. It is a pretty recent passion of mine as I started my first skills class when I was in 6th grade - I was more of a competitive swimmer and dancer when I was younger.
Basketball has allowed me to meet and work with new people and people who are different from me. It plays a huge role in my life as I work most everything in my life around basketball. Basketball has allowed me to make new friends, be a part of a team and has pushed me out of my shell as I have always tended to be a shy person. I have gained confidence on and off the court. I love the feeling of being on the court with the basketball in my hands!
How did it feel to receive varsity status as a freshman? Were there any moments in the process where you thought it wouldn't have been possible? It was awesome! It had been a goal for me to play varsity basketball in high school. I put the work in and made varsity, though, I didn’t know how much playing time I would receive. I made up my mind to arrive early each day before practice to get my shots up and do the work. I’m happy to say that I started every game of my freshman year and became the leading scorer for our team.
Tell us a little bit about the Girls Under Armour team and early college recruitment. (That's so exciting!!) This year Under Armour launched its national girls’ basketball circuit to showcase young athletes across the country. It’s really exciting to be part of it. There are three showcases this season where I will play with my team in front of college coaches from all over the country who are looking to recruit for their teams. It’s cool to see what my future may hold as I pursue my passion.
Tell me a time when you were expected/asked to become a leader on your team (during a practice, game, etc.) I arrived to each practice early for my high school team, normally being the first on the court in the morning. Because of this, my coach gave me the opportunity to lead and encourage my teammates to arrive early to practice. I was also expected to be a leader on both sides of the court by talking on defense and scoring on offense.
Who are some interesting figures you look up to? One of my role models is Ana Llanusa from Oklahoma Women's Basketball. She is a shooting guard just like me. She can shoot the ball well and is an all-around great player. She has overcome adversity with her injuries but continues to keep working hard. She embodies the qualities I strive to possess.
Leila will be featured in Issue 20 of Inspiring Teens Magazine!