By Anthony Williams, Contributing Writer
When junior Shariah Anderson first came to Bison Hill, it was entirely for academics, not for her dream, to play college basketball.
It was not until the end of her sophomore year her dream became a reality.
She said her path to playing basketball for OBU was circuitous but absolutely driven by God.
“Being a walk-on was such an answered prayer,” she said.
In fact, in the tenth grade, one of her coaches once told her she would never be a collegiate basketball player.
“[That] fueled my fire to pursue my dreams of playing basketball at the higher level,” Anderson said.
Unfortunately, she later doubted her drive would impact the reality of the situation. When opportunities failed to present themselves for the sport of her dreams, she began to pursue other athletic options.
“Being recruited by OBU for track was not the route I saw myself going; however, I figured that I could try out for the basketball team, make the team and then continue to run track in the spring,” she said.
“Nevertheless, that was not God’s plan. For the fi rst two years I was unable to try out for the basketball team because their roster was full. But at the end of my sophomore year, I went into the tryout with hopes to make the team as a walk-on; I walked out of the gym that day as collegiate basketball player who was on scholarship.”
She said she always kept faith in God during the process. At times her faith was tested, but she never surrendered her high-school dream.
In the end, she said, she was rewarded with a feeling she will never forget.
“This was such a surreal moment and made me reflect on how good God is,” she said. “In the moment I thought of this verse: ‘Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or
think’ (Eph. 3:20, NLT). All I wanted was to play basketball and He [fulfilled] that dream.”
Anderson said she believes God worked with her to realize her goals and she knows He can do this for others as well.
“My advice to another walk-on would be to remain close to God, focus and to have fun,” she said. “I would encourage them to not try to accomplish a million things all at once, but to come to practice every day with a new goal and mindset to get better at a specific thing.”
Anderson said it’s important for athletes who are walk-ons not to doubt themselves because God has given them exactly what they need.
“I would tell them to pray often because the attacks of the enemy are real, and if they are not prepared it can be hard,” she said. “Lastly, I would tell them to enjoy it. It’s not about how many minutes you’re getting in playing time or stats, but the primary purpose is to bring God glory no matter what. Whether on the bench or on the floor, the purpose does not change.”
Her faith continued to motivate her fellow teammates—and allow her to share the joy she feels.
“Shariah’s testimony has so much motivation behind it,” teammate Charissa Price said. “Seeing her giving 110 percent at practice and seeing that passion she has in her eyes blesses me. It makes me realize I truly have the best teammates I could ask for, this is why I came to OBU.”
Although the Lady Bison basketball season has come to an end, Anderson said she is already looking forward to personal improvements this off season.
“I am looking to improve on my mental state,” she said. “It can be hard being the one with the least experience, so really just taking my own advice and trusting that God has me in His hands no matter what. Also, I’d like to improve my basketball IQ and [I’d like] learning how to build stronger relationships with my teammates. In basketball, or any sport really, chemistry is huge. Therefore, getting closer with my teammates is a pretty important improvement I would like to make.”
Anderson will be entering her senior year and looking nowhere but forward.