Sophomore Carolina Lopez, is a leader on and off the court.
Lopez, who wears #14, has been playing basketball for 10 years. She does it all for her older brother, who passed away in a car wreck as the driver.
“It affected me a lot, and I had decided to stop playing because I was never at home and wanted to spend more time with my family,” Lopez said. “My mom and dad didn’t allow me to stop playing because they didn’t want to see me crying at home all day.”
Before his accident he encouraged her to play. He was the one who wanted her to come to the United States and play basketball here.
“I have an ambition for basketball. It makes me happy. I love it” Carolina Lopez said.
Moving from school to school and from city to city playing for who ever recruited her to play in any public school in Colombia, she eventually got to play for a select team in Colombia. After making it to regionals for her high school team, she got recruited to play in the United States.
Lopez made the decision to attend Tyler Junior College because it was the best school out of the all ones that were looking at her. Also, because it was the closest to her older sister, who lives in Dallas.
So far she has enjoyed her experience here at TJC, but it has been hard.
“The biggest struggle was coming here and not knowing any English. None, at all. I didn’t understand anything in class or on the court,” Lopez said.
“You can play basketball but it’s not the same when you can’t understand the language,” Lopez said.
Eventually desperation caused her to walk around with a dictionary to learn how to manage the English language.
“I can handle English a lot more now,” Lopez said.
This year has been hard because at the beginning of the year, the team lost some players and two got hurt. This season has helped shape her to become better.
“It helps me mature, as a player and a person,” Lopez said.
Lopez is one of the big post key players for the team. Coach Trenia Jones has been coaching Lopez for two years now. She described her as a good, quiet person.
“She’s funny, the girls lover her,” Coach Trenia Jones said.
Her improvement from last year shows on the court, as Lopez has been working on her ball skills and shooting more.
“… she wants to be a captain wanting to go to the next level. Just doing the right thing,” Jones said.
Sometimes the effort Lopez puts on the court or the classroom, she knows that there wil be times she will fail. But she always keeps her brother in mind. His death has been the hardest thing to overcome for her and her family.
The coaches recognize how hard it is to come from a different country, not know any English, have to play a sport and go to school. The coaches, as well as her teammates, have helped her get through these two years. When Lopez needs help, one of the teammates breaks it down for her to understand and make it easier to know what’s going on.
Assistant Coach Precious Ivy describes Lopez as a responsible player. She goes to practice and class and does what she needs to do.
“I think if anything stands out it is the her academic side of her. Like I said, she’s very smart. She makes good grade. We don’t ever have to worry about her missing class or not passing a class, so I think she leads by example in the classroom because her grades speak for themselves,” Assistant Coach Ivy said.
From the beginning of the season till now, she has improved her catching abilities, watching the ball more and having time to gather herself.
“She’s a quiet leader, she doesn’t say a whole lot but when she does say something it’s powerful,” Coach Ivy said.
Lopez has no option but to be strong. It’s a lot for her to be away from her parents and deal with the death of her brother.
“She has a strong will to do what she needs to do in order to get to where she needs to be,” Coach Ivy said.
Lopez has committed to Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma and will be playing in the Southland Conference.