Valencia Myers Works To Capitalize On USA Basketball Opportunity
In the 18 days since Valencia Myers (Solon H.S./Solon, Ohio) was named to the 2015 USA Basketball Women’s U16 National Team on May 26, the 6-foot-3 center has been preparing for her return to Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the team’s training camp, which will prepare the group for the 2015 FIBA Americas U16 Championship that will be played June 24-28 in Puebla, Mexico.
“I just stayed in the gym,” said explained. “I ran and worked on my own skills.”
There was time to celebrate making the team, however, and Myers said she was surprised by the support she received when she got back home and returned to school after being one of 12 players selected from 149 hopefuls.
“When I got back, I took that Tuesday off,” Valencia said. “And when I went back to school on Wednesday, everyone was congratulating me, my principal and everybody, so it was pretty fun.
“It was really an honor, because I made such a great team, and I worked on things to get here, so I was really proud that they were happy for me and that I made the team.”
The work is just beginning for Myers, however, who said she was grateful to have a support network that includes her family, friends and teammates.
“I worked out all week, and Friday I didn’t want to work out,” Myers admitted. “My (Solon) teammates pushed me and my coaches pushed me to work out harder.
“Before, when I was stressing that I wasn’t going to make the team, everyone was there for me, supporting me.”
Those relationships are the main reason why Myers said she has continued to love basketball, a sport her mother initially made her try when she was 11 or 12 years old.
“I was in like fourth grade, and my friend played basketball,” Myers explained. “She (my mother) told me to go with my friend. At that time, I guess I didn’t really want to, but I said ok and I started to like it.
“It was probably the team; I enjoy stuff with a good team,” Myers continued. “It’s fun. It’s still fun. When we are all going hard and you make a mistake and someone picks you up or makes a joke about it, everything eases up.”
Initially, Myers knew just one of the 149 players who took part in the trials for the 2015 USA Basketball Women’s U16 National Team, her summer teammate Bexley Wallace (Pickerington Central H.S./Pickerington, Ohio.). Once the team was named, including Myers and her AAU teammate Wallace, that quickly changed.
“We are all in a group message, and we text in it every single day,” Myers said of the USA U16 women’s team. “We all know how we each act.”
So far after just two practices, Myers said things are going well on the court as a member of her first USA Basketball team.
“We all went our hardest,” she said.
“I think the program is all about family, and teamwork and effort and staying positive. If you miss a shot or a layup, don’t get down on yourself, hustle to make up for it.”
The expectation of hard work on the USA Women’s U16 National Team is something that Myers said she has grown comfortable with as she has progressed as a basketball player.
“When I started playing basketball, they were big on hard work,” Myers said. “And as the level of skill got harder, I myself just started going harder and my team pushed me to go harder.
“At the start of eighth grade, when I made my elite AAU team, that’s when things got really serious.”
From a fourth-grader who reluctantly tried a new activity to one of the nation’s best young basketball players, Myers said she is grateful for the current position that she has worked her way into.
“When we got our gear Sunday, I tried everything on and stared in the mirror,” Myers said. “It was really exciting.”
Admiring her USA Basketball clothing, you might expect Myers would feel content, as if she had made it. Not so for Myers, who said that her success has fueled her to accomplish more.
“Wow, I made it here,” she said of the feelings she got while looking at her reflection. “Just keep working harder.”