BPC basketball player to play international ball over summer
By Kelley M. Arnold
Director of News & Public Information
Zaneta "Z" Howard
MOUNT VERNON—Zaneta Howard, a senior from Birmingham, Ala., who says she has never flown more than two hours, nor over any major body of water, will soon find herself in Barbados playing against international women’s basketball players as a member of USA Athletes International (USAAI) Team.
Howard, 22, known as “Z” to her teammates, friends and coaches, was invited to play with the international “all-stars” team May 31-June 7. The team will also take time to travel and take in the sites and culture of Barbados, as well as teach basketball clinics to girls in the area who want to grow up to play basketball, said Howard.
USAAI selects its athletes based on coaching and athletic professional’s recommendation, according to the USAAI website: “USAAI athletes are a select group of elite athletes that represent their team, schools, country and USAAI while they are overseas, and we choose to invite only those we feel will do this with class, integrity and character of a true athlete.”
Howard, a sincere young woman who enjoys laughing and cutting up with her teammates both on and off the court, is honored to be selected for international competition.
“I am excited and nervous, and a bit scared. I don’t know what to expect,” she said, adding that she has already checked the team’s roster and discovered teammates from Texas, Virginia and Ohio on the list. But, this co-captain of the 2009-2010 BPC Women’s Basketball Team is looking forward to trying out her leadership skills in a new locale with new players.
“It will give me a chance to see where I am as far as being a leader, not only a physical leader but a spiritual one,” said Howard, who plays small forward. Next year, she will help the Lady Barons Basketball team “behind the scenes with Coach ‘Shoe’” as she will not be eligible as a fifth-year senior to play – something that almost brought her to tears while talking about it.
“I love my teammates. That’s what I’m really going to miss about (playing). They keep me laughing all day, just having good times. I love those girls to death,” she said.
|BPC Athletics wishes Zaneta Howard, center, well wishes on her travels this summer with USA Athletes International, representing Brewton-Parker College. From left are Athletic Director Sheila Simmons, Howard, and Head Women’s Basketball Coach DeCole Shoemate. (Photo by Kelley Arnold)
Of the game, she added, “I love it. I like the competition. I like the adrenaline. It gives me a stress reliever when I’m out there. For a moment in time, I don’t have anything else to worry about except just playing the game and having fun.”
“As a player, Zaneta was the type of player any coach loved to have on their team,” said Coach ‘Shoe’, a.k.a. DeCole Shoemate, Barons women’s basketball head coach. “She was self-motivated, hard working and very coachable. She would work out with anyone on the court and was known for putting in the extra time to get better. Many players are blessed with God-given talents that make them good, but it is the intangibles such as work ethic, integrity, good attitude and persistence that launch players to become great. I was fortunate to coach a player such as Zaneta who possesses those attributes and is surely on her way to greatness.”
Coach Shoemate added, “Though her passion for the game runs deep, her passion for God is what ultimately fuels her. With that type of energy, I can truly say the sky is the limit for Zaneta Howard.”
Howard began playing basketball her sophomore year of high school. She signed out of high school, Pinson Valley High, to play at Southern Union State Community College in Wadley, Ala. Two years later the Barons came calling.
“At first, I didn’t like it,” jokes Howard of BPC, “but it’s a good fit. A good change.”
Howard is the daughter of Gwendolyn and Dwayne Howard of Birmingham, Ala. She is a member of the 2009-2010 SSAC All Conference team for women’s basketball. She plans to graduate next May with a bachelor’s degree in sports and fitness.
Brewton-Parker College is the only accredited four-year Christian college in south Georgia.