Even if you don’t watch women’s basketball, turn on your TV tonight. The University of Connecticut women’s team is about to make history.
Montclair resident, senior Tahirah Williams will be there playing her Husky heart out. As a reserve guard, she has averaged three points in eight minutes per game. Tahirah’s team is undefeated and numerically the best team in women’s or men’s basketball history.
I will be torn tonight when the Connecticut Huskies play my hometown Louisville Cardinals. But my beloved Louisville doesn’t stand a chance. The last times Connecticut played Louisville, the Huskies won by 28 and 39 points. The Huskies are on a 38-game winning streak. Their coach, Geno Auriemma, has never been to the national championships and lost.
Plus, I was won over by Tahirah Williams when she spoke to me recently. She is an important part of the team during practices–and a gritty player during games.
She represents everything that is special about her team: hard work, determination and perfection. Here’s what Tahirah says about growing up with basketball in Baristaville.
Kristen: What have been some highlights of your senior year on this amazing basketball team?
Tahirah: It’s amazing to just be part of such a great program and have such a great time. Freshman year, I was trying to find my way. Now, I’m one of the mothers on the team. On senior night last month, all the memories just came. We cried. We also won.
Kristen: Your team hasn’t lost all year. It’s your third time to win the Big East tournament. Now you’re headed to the national championships. How do you feel?
Tahirah: It feels great. It’s really hard to do. It means you have to be perfect the whole season. I wasn’t suprised we went undefeated, though. The stuff Coach puts us through is hard and mentally challenging. Once we get out on the court, it’s our playtime. Games aren’t even half of what we do in practice. We work really, really hard.
Kristen: Where you dreaming of basketball when you were a kid in Montclair? I read that you and your twin brother, Isaiah, were New Jersey Junior Olympic track winners.
Tahirah: My family has lived in the same house near Glen Ridge since I was one and half. I was all about track when I was in the fifth grade. I admired my older sister at that time who ran. In the eighth grade, I knew that the UConn was a number one team. That’s when I started to pay attention to college basketball. I went to Watchung Elementary, Mount Hebron, Glenfield and then for high school, Immaculate Heart Academy in Bergen County.
Kristen: Where did you play basketball in Montclair?
Tahirah: When I was 5, I started running track with my dad. I ran till I was 11 and started playing basketball at 12 with Learn & Play in Montclair. The coaches coach the Jersey Knights, and they have workouts at Glen Field. College players come back over the summer and train with the kids. A clan of us college players have been back to play.
Kristen: What’s your advice for raising a successful sports kid?
Tahirah: My advice is not to push the kids. Let them be them. My parents never pushed sports on us. Whatever we liked to do, they said to be sure to do it and keep your grades. My parents are big supporters of education. They made me maintain a certain grade point average. It just so happens that all of us love sports and love to be active. On our street, we had so many kids. We’d play football all night until we got older.
Kristen: What are your plans for the future?
Tahirah: Next year, I want to go overseas and play basketball for a pro team. If that doesn’t work out, I’ll find a job at a TV station. I did an internship with Channel 8 ABC WTN last summer. If I don’t do that, I’ll come to graduate school at UConn and study sports management.
Thanks to Tahirah for taking time out of a crazy busy schedule to talk to Barista Kids. I know who I’ll be rooting for tonight. How about you?