I made my first basketball shot when I was around six years old.
I used to go to the gym with my dad all the time, and we’d spend hours practicing.
At first, my only goal was to hit the net.
Then the rim.
So when I finally made my first bucket, I was elated. More importantly, I was determined that this would be the first of many shots I would make on the hardwood.
I recently broke the NCAA women’s career three-point record. While I’m beyond proud of this achievement, the record means so much more to me than being featured on SportsCenter.
Or a shoutout from my basketball idol.
This record began all those years ago in the gym with my dad, where he passed down his love and passion for basketball to me.
Not only was Dad a huge basketball fan, but rooting for the Sooners runs in my family for generations. Having the opportunity to break the record while playing for the OU is something I’ll cherish forever.
Dad passed away shortly after I committed.
He never got to see me play basketball for his beloved Sooners, but I think of him every time I put on that Crimson and Cream jersey.
Everything I do, both on and off the court, is to honor him and make him proud.
Destined to be a Sooner
When I was a little girl, it was not uncommon to see my bedroom walls painted in Crimson and Cream. With my dad’s influence, I’ve had a connection to OU for my entire life.
While I wish he would’ve gotten the chance to see me play, I consider it a blessing that he got to experience my recruiting process with OU.
I remember a specific day in high school when I was expecting a call from OU. I couldn’t wait to receive that phone call, and I think Dad was even more excited than me.
He was in the hospital at the time, so right after school, I went to see him.
As soon as I walked into his room, he was playing the OU fight song with a smile you couldn’t wipe off his face.
Little did he know, I hadn’t even talked to OU yet.
But he was just so proud of me and all of the hard work I put in to chase my dreams.
When I got that offer and ultimately decided OU was the best decision for my career as a student-athlete, I thought of two people right away.
And that little girl growing up with Crimson and Cream walls in her bedroom.
This was for them.
Breaking the three-point record was never a conceivable thought I had in my head, especially in my first few seasons at OU.
Just like when I was younger and I was aiming for the net and rim before I made my first shot, this record was a gradual process.
It was a journey, and a test of longevity and consistency.
And I never would have been in a position to come close to breaking it without the support of my teammates and coaches.
What I love about my team and playing for Coach Jennie is we play a selfless style of basketball. We play for each other instead of our own personal stats and achievements.
That philosophy comes from Coach, and that’s what makes OU so special to me because I know it’s not like that everywhere else.
Being one of the best teams in the Big 12, the top-25 ranking, et cetera — Coach wants these accolades for us far more than she wants them for herself.
More than anything, that’s why I’m blessed to be a Sooner.
The wins, the records, and the NCAA Tournament appearances are amazing, but they wouldn’t be possible without my teammates and coaches empowering each other and enjoying our successes as a team.
And that kind of attitude is something I want to teach young girls out there as well. I want them to understand that they need to work hard but that working together is what really drives the needle. I think that’s an important lesson we don’t emphasize enough.
Just play ball
I didn’t start thinking about the record until these past few months when I was on pace to break it. I found myself in a difficult situation because if I thought about the record too much, it would negatively impact my game.
But I’d be naive and delusional if I didn’t think about the record at all with the media and everyone else coming up to me and asking me about it.
Going into this past season, I ultimately decided the best solution was to just go out there and do what I always do.
Play ball and have fun doing so.
Taking it one shot at a time.
By letting the game come to me and not forcing bad shots, this was how I’d get through the season without stressing out about the record and how soon I’d break it.
Meeting my idol
When I did make that fateful three-pointer to surpass the record in Ames against Iowa State, it was a whirlwind of emotions.
Most of which I’m still trying to process.
But I think one of the most surreal experiences came when the best shooter on the planet sent me a video message congratulating me on breaking the record.
My basketball idol, Stephen Curry.
The reason I wear #30.
I’ve always molded my game after Steph in not only how he shoots the basketball, but also how he plays the game through his teammates and all the little things he does on the court that set him apart and make him one of the game’s best players.
Having Steph reach out to me, and getting the opportunity to meet him throughout this entire process has been one of the craziest opportunities imaginable.
Once again, I remain grateful to OU and my teammates and coaches for putting me in this position to connect and meet one of my heroes.
Honoring his legacy
I don’t believe I’ll be able to fully wrap my head around setting the career three-point record until after the season ends and I’ve graduated from OU.
There’s still so much I want to accomplish with my teammates this season, and I want to remain focused on that.
Despite the personal records and achievements, there’s nothing I enjoy more than seeing my teammates succeed.
And I know they’d say the same thing, which is why OU has meant so much to me these past five seasons.
I’d love the opportunity to play in the WNBA and compete overseas once I graduate.
My dad was there for my first shot, and while I wish he could be here now, I have no plans to take my last shot anytime soon.
He taught me to shoot from the outside, and by honoring his legacy, that’s exactly what I’m going to continue to do.