Lady ‘Riders basketball player excels on the hardwood and in the classroom

By Derek Shore

Sports Editor


It doesn’t matter if it’s in the classroom or on the basketball floor – there are two common words to describe the Crowder Lady Roughriders sophomore post, Zahria White.


“There’s not a whole lot you can say about Zahria because she’s just humble, hard-working, and an extremely smart young woman,” high school basketball coach Ryan Maloney said, who coached White for four years at Choctaw High School in Oklahoma.

That’s exactly how White, who stands at 5-foot-10, describes herself on the basketball floor as well.

“I would like to describe myself as a hardworking, underestimated, and coachable basketball player,” she said.


Life before Crowder

Personality Profile PicEver since she was a freshman at Choctaw, White not only excelled on the hardwood but was arguably an even better student.

Off the court, she was a member of the National Honor Society for three years and was also one of the Valedictorians of her class in 2016.

Maloney said that was a testament to her commitment to being an all-around quality person.

“She was a great student,” he said. “You never had to worry about that. She was committed to academics as well as athletics. It went further than that. She had a great personality, and she was socially someone that stood out.”

On the court, however, White played up as a freshman in varsity basketball an impressive feat nonetheless, especially for someone at a Class 6A school. She helped the Yellowjackets reach the state tournament all four years over the course of her career at Choctaw capped by a 26-3 season as a senior.

“We were really solid,” Maloney said. “She was our anchor inside. Her gifts – she was a really successful passer, and we liked to put her in the middle kind of let her catch the ball and make decisions from that spot. She could hit a cutter or fake it to go score. She is kind of like a guard in a post spot. We liked to say she would have been a good point guard.”

As a senior, she averaged 8.6 points per game along with a whopping 10.7 rebounds while dishing out 3.1 assists a game. White was eventually named to the prestigious Oklahoma Girls Basketball Association All-State Team.

“When you talked about her game, you talk about an undersized post with some of the most creative and gifted scoring moves that you can get,” Maloney said. “Her feet were very quick for her size and her ability to sneak around and find ways to get the ball back up on the glass was pretty inspirational when she was playing against some of the biggest girls we have in Oklahoma here in Class 6A.

“It was always fun to watch Zahria and how creative she was with the ball in traffic – where she could be physical, but so finesse in the same way. She was fun to watch.”

Maloney said she matured early and was a player he could go to have “grown up” conversations with and even referred to her as the “mother figure” of the team.

“She could get the girls lined back up if they were getting a little squirrely and someone we could talk to about game plans and thought more than just going out there and playing,” Maloney said. “She understood team concepts. She knew a lot of the kids and played ball forever.

“She knew a lot of the players on different teams, so I would go to her and talk to her about those girls and she could help me with the scouting reports because she knew them. I always liked getting her opinion on what she thought which at a pretty early age was nice.

“We were definitely a lot better for being able to have her at Choctaw,” the coach concluded.


Joining the Lady Riders’

A month before graduating from Choctaw, White participatePersonality Profile Pictured and made enough of an impression in the Roughriders annual tryouts in early April to sign with Crowder later that month.

“We brought her to Crowder because she’s a very talented player and an even better person,” head coach Tina Wilson said.

Many things stood out about furthering her basketball career at a college like Crowder.

“I knew a few of my friends already committed to Crowder,” White said. “I found out that Crowder was a small community. I love how it feels like a big family. I went to the tryouts and met Coach Wilson and the remaining sophomores. I appreciated Coach Wilson’s structured coaching style and how she respects and believes in her players.”

In her first season with the Roughriders, White led all freshman with 10.3 points per game while grabbing the second-most rebounds (6.8) of any player over 32 games played.

She was also named to the National Junior College Athletic Association’s Academic All-American team last year, a difficult honor for any student-athlete to achieve.

“I think being a student-athlete is extremely difficult, especially when the season starts and we are on the road every other day,” White said. “We miss many classes and studying on the bus is not the easiest. It’s really tough during the holidays because we usually get less time with our families than other regular students.”

So far in 2017-18, White is averaging 11.4 points a game with 6.3 rebounds, 1.0 assists, and 0.8 steals as the Roughriders are 9-3 through 12 games of play.

“Z continues to develop her game,” White said. “She has become more confident in her shooting range and continue to improve in all facets of the game.”

A longtime teammate, sophomore guard Michaela Mack chimes in with her impression of playing with White.

“Zahria is one of the best teammates you could ever have,” Mack said. “She is reliable so you always know you are going to get 100 percent from her. She also is a great motivator. If you are feeling down about a mistake, she is always there to pick you up.”


Outside of basketball

Outside of basketball, White, who plans to major in General Studies but hopes to have a career in Occupational Therapy, really enjoys spending time with family or friends in her spare time.

“She didn’t really fall into the high school thing,” Maloney said. “If it was up to her, she would probably spend the night at home with her family. Very church-oriented. I think her dad does some pastor work. We have her younger sister. Her younger sister is a junior, and they got to play a year together.”

“A good family. Mom and Dad were very supportive. That goes a long way.”

Coach Wilson echoed his thoughts.

“Z gives her best in everything she does whether it be on the basketball court, in the classroom or life in general,” she said. “She comes from a great family and has high morals and values.”

Zahria said she was headed towards a career in physical therapy before she decided to take things to the next level by helping people not only recover physically, but mentally as well.

“I love that a common occupational therapist can help a child with learning disabilities, a person recovering from an injury, or provide support for an older adult experiencing physical and cognitive changes,” she said.

White also loves to sing, according to Coach Wilson.

“Z can sing,” Wilson said. “We are trying to get her to sing the National Anthem at a game this year.

“Coach Wilson is a funny woman,” White added. “I do love to sing in church choirs, in the car, or in the shower. My true passion or hobby is photography.”

For White, she just got into photography this past summer, so she is still learning the basics and got into it thanks to one of her friends from high school, who took her senior pictures.

“I really started to watch and appreciated her work,” White said. “I asked her what it would take for me to get started and I saved up for my first camera.”

After getting her first camera, she now hopes to have a bright future in the photography industry someday.

“Everyone knows I love working with people,” White said. “My favorite part is dressing my client up and doing their makeup before I do the photo shoot. My dream is to start taking wedding photos, senior photos, and family photos on the regular.”