The Student Gazette -
Student Gazette

Leslie learns to shoot layups, goes on to stardom
Thursday, May 12, 2011

Bethy Behuniak is a fifth-grader at The Academy of the Holy Names

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Photographer: Peter R. Barber

Bethy Behuniak
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On July 7, 1972, a four-time Olympian was born. Her name was Lisa Leslie.

At 12 years old, teachers and students who did not know her would walk up to Lisa and ask, “Why don’t you play basketball?” Lisa would answer, “Because I hate it.” She was asked this question often because she was six feet, two inches tall in the seventh grade.

Eventually Lisa decided to try playing basketball. Lisa started playing pick-up games with boys. Soon Lisa joined a local basketball league with the same boys.

The boys respected Lisa because she made lots of baskets.

When Lisa was in the eighth grade, she decided basketball would be a great way to make friends. At tryouts Lisa was shocked to see how good some of the other girls were. A lot of the girls played as well as the boys. Lisa thought she was a good player because of her height, but many girls had more skills than she had. Lisa did not even know how to shoot a layup. The coach noticed this right away and taught Lisa how to do a layup. Lisa thought that if she ever fell down, she would quit basketball and never try it again. However, she did not fall that day. That season, her team won all of its games.

When the season was over, Lisa worked out with her cousin Craig. Craig kept Lisa practicing the sport. Her freshman year of high school was amazing. Throughout California, coaches began to hear how good Lisa was. During her sophomore year, her team from Morningside High School made it to the state championship, but they lost to Fremont High School. The next year, Morningside went back to the state championship, but this time they beat Fremont.

During her senior year, Lisa got many scholarship offers. Lisa was able to slam dunk. This was rare for a high school girl. Lisa’s coach decided to have some fun with a game and see how many points Lisa could score. Before their game against South Torrance High School, her coach told the opposing team they were going to see how many points Lisa could make. Lisa was trying to break the record of 106 points held by Cheryl Miller. At halftime Lisa had scored 101 points. Lisa was bound to break the record. Then South Torrance announced that they were not going to finish the game.

Lisa felt they should have kept playing until she beat the record; then South Torrance could have quit.

After high school, Lisa played at the University of Southern California and then with the Los Angeles Sparks. Lisa had seven WNBA All-Star appearances and two WNBA championships. She was the first player to slam dunk in a WNBA game, and she won four Olympic gold medals. Just think, if Lisa had fallen during her first layup, women’s basketball would not have been the same.



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