Height not an obstacle for female basketball player

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Being 5 feet 2 inches tall in a sport generally recognized for its tall, lanky athletes isn’t always easy, but ever since Kelly Stewart was 5 years old, she had a love for basketball. Stewart had to overcome a lot having a short stature. She has been told numerous times by taller people that she couldn’t play.

“Now I run past the tall people,” Stewart said.

People used to wonder how she would ever get to the basket to score.

“Now I drive into the big people and score,” Stewart said.

Her teammate, Monica Spearman, labeled her as “a little person with big game.”

Most of the time growing up, and even now, she continues to be told she is too short to play.

To her, that only adds fuel to the fire, making her tougher and faster than most of her opponents.

“That girl is a scorer, and has never met a shot she didn’t like,” Trenia Tillis-Jones, Women’s Basketball Head Coach, said.

A lot of how she plays, and what she does comes from watching her dad when she was young.

“Watching my daddy play all the time when I was young made me want to play,” Stewart said. “I used to watch him in our backyards and in the gyms with his friends. While he played, I played too. I used to be on the side doing everything he did. He’s is my role model.”

Being the scoring threat that she is, makes other players around the conference respect her and not want to guard the quick scoring hassle of a shooting guard.

Tragedy struck Stewart last year when her high school friend Shannon Veal died during a game.

“My good friend who wore number 25 died last year in a game,” Stewart said.

“She had diabetes and died of an enlarged heart. She pushed herself and never gave up, when she died, that’s when I changed my number to 25.”

Stewart honors her good friend by wearing her number every game.

Stewart is in her second season at TJC after being recruited by the assistant coach and is majoring in general studies. She is beginning to get scouted by bigger schools and hopes to continue on to a D1 or D2 school to finish upher education. She has been scouted by the University of Alabama and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and is not sure where she will be continuing her basketball career after TJC. Stewart’s dream school to play for would be Louisiana State University because she is from Baton Rouge and played high school varsity basketball all four years at Glen Oaks High School.

Kelly is focusing on recuperating and staying healthy for the remainder of the regular season. In the 48-70 loss on Feb. 4th to Blynn college, Kelly sprained her previously injured ankle.

“Actually my ankle is okay,” she said. “It takes me a little bit to get warmed up but when I’m warm, I’m back to the old Kelly!”

Stewart is hoping to be returning to full strength soon to help her team later on in the upcoming Conference tournament and possibly Nationals after that.

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