The Back Story
The abrupt closing of our public schools before the end of the 2019-2020 school session left many students elated about the long summer session. How many times through the years have children dreamed and hoped that schools would magically close. But it reminds me of the saying about being careful what you wish for or you just may get it.
The school closings have impacted families in a variety of ways. One aspect that may have been overlooked is how it’s impacting our athletes. An athlete lives for the game. They dream of having a scout notice them or of being singled out for a scholarship. For some athletes, the recognition or success they achieve in the sports arena propels them towards earning a higher education and better equips them with life skills. Until school is back in session and sports are given a green light, many student athletes are left to wonder about their life long athletic goals.
Alanna is one such student. As a freshman at Swansboro High, she woke up one day to find that school was closed. Although at first it’s nice to have a homework free life, as a student athlete with goals it soon became apparent that this was perhaps more that just a speed bump. For many years, Alanna has been formulating her hoop dream and high school is definitely a huge part of that dream.
Her dream started when Kory Wright, Alanna’s father, ignited in his daughter a love for sports, basketball in particular. Alanna recalls that in about the fourth grade her dad encouraged her to play basketball. She immediately rejected the idea. She had no desire to play. He didn’t give up. Instead, he challenged her to play for one week. He told her that if at the end of the week she didn’t like it, he’d let her quit. She accepted his challenge and surprised herself when she fell in love with the sport.
Over the years, Alanna continued to sharpen her skills on the court. She often dedicates more time than other athletes. She has a drive within herself to do the best she can do. This passion has also taught her that just because you practice the most or perform your best doesn’t automatically gain you the positive responses you seek. Nor does it come with a guaranteed reward when you give it all you got. In fact for a young lady prepared to enter her sophomore year, she already knows that some people have a natural talent that comes with little to no effort. But she uses that knowledge to keep her pushing forward rather than giving up. She believes that going unnoticed only adds fuel to her fire to succeed. While prepared to meet opponents, adversaries, and have occasional bad games, she wasn’t prepared for the possibility of moving forward without basketball in her future.
Alanna believes in the words of Tim Notke, “Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard.” She went on to say that this quote reminds her that so long as she maintains her passion and hard work that her time to shine is not far off.
In closing our interview Alanna added, “My mentor is my dad 100%. He’s always been there for me. My dad pushes me and encourages me. He’s believed in me at times when I didn’t even believe in myself. He learned the game just so he could teach me. He’s been such a huge factor in where I am today and where I’m going to be in the future. And I don’t even know if he knows how much he means to me.”
For Alanna and Kory, her father, it soon became apparent that choices would have to be made. While the debate continues nationally about students returning to school. They had to start revising the dream. As a backup, Alanna has some theatrical and dramatic dreams that she may explore in the future. But together, father and daughter started working a hoop dream back up plan. Alanna started helping Jason Porter of William Peace University build Team Southeast. This has provided Alanna with an opportunity to represent the USA in Spain in a basketball tournament June of 2021.
Kory has definitely instilled in his daughter a positive attitude. She thinks like a winner. He is also thinking outside the box in regards to her future. With that positive attitude, he believes athletes will soon return to their sports. To further open the door to have her community support her goals, Kory started a GoFundMe page to finance Alanna's travel to Spain. This has further helped Alanna to witness the power of positive thinking, accepting facts and adapting to new situations, and the importance of having the support of your community.