FIRST PERSON: Cornerstone's Tara Watkins

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By Laura Clark

Tara Watkins in a sophomore at Cornerstone Christian Academy, a  5-foot-2 guard who starts for the Lady Bulldogs basketball team. She also plays softball and volleyball.

  On her role on the team:

Since we have a new team, we’re still working on the basics. My main role is helping out the younger kids and showing them what they need to know. [I] give them a basis to see how to do things. And just a lot of encouragement because we’re so young and inexperienced.

I’d say that’s the biggest challenge, just because you’re trying to help them, but you’re also trying to build your own skills.

  On what her teammates count on her for:

I’m the main outside shooter. Just because I’m small, I don’t go inside very much. They count on me for the threes and things of that sort.

Off the court, still it’s the encouragement thing. I’ve been here for five years. I’ve seen people come; I’ve seen people go. I know how everything runs around here. I’d say people come to me for that.

  On the most memorable game this year:

I’d say the one that sticks out was one of our first games, against North Hardin. We expected it to be an awful game. We expected not very much out of our team.

We still lost, but our team put up a really big fight. They were runner-up in the state last year, so it really showed a lot about our team being able to fight. It was a rally. It was within a close range of points.

  On basketball:

I like the fact that it challenges me and keeps me in shape. When I first started, it was way out of my comfort zone. But now I’ve come to really like and enjoy the sport.

  On her other sports:

I play volleyball and softball for the school. And I play club volleyball outside of the school. Volleyball is more the sport I’m looking into past high school. I’m a setter. I’m short; I don’t spike much.

I’m a catcher [in softball]. You never get bored being a setter or catcher. You’ve always got something to do.

 On whether she’d want to be on offense or defense in the closing seconds of a tight game:

I’d rather be playing defense because you don’t have to take the chance of making a tough shot. All you have to do is everybody stick on somebody and make sure they don’t get the shot off. Less pressure on you and the team as a whole. Everybody has a part in it, and you’re not depending on one or two people to make the shot. Less things can go wrong if you’re on defense in my opinion.

  On coach Tres bien Gambino:

She played in high school, and she was a phenomenal player. It’s her first year. Tres bien is very bubbly. I love her to death as a person and a coach, because she knows what she’s talking about. She’s been in our position, playing in high school just a few years ago.

  On putting in the extra work:

I’ve actually started basketball training with a trainer. It’s been pushing me a lot harder, and I’ve been improving a lot quicker. It’s Sunday afternoons, anywhere from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. I can come in and the guy [Paul Smith] is here. I normally stay for two hours.

We do all types of training. This past Sunday I was here shooting for two hours. And conditioning – I’m sore.

  On the team goal:

We haven’t really set a team goal this year, but if I had to come up with one for us, I would say to just get the fundamentals going and have fun with it. You don’t want to burn yourself out just trying to learn the fundamentals.

  On Cornerstone:

When it comes to sports, you don’t have the variety of sports you want. But as a student, it’s nice. I really like the small classes. I can get the education I need here, and you have the one-on-one that you can’t get in big schools.

  On biology, her favorite subject.

I’ve always really liked life science. I want to be a microbiologist. I think. We’ve dissected frogs and worms, and I dissected a pig last year in my anatomy class. This year I’m dissecting a cat in biology. It hasn’t happened yet.

It’s interesting. I don’t like the whole smelly part and some of the stuff you see, but it really is interesting so see how everything works and how it’s laid out.