By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports
Eleven Waxahachie student-athletes recently signed to continue their athletic careers at the collegiate level.
The ceremony was held inside the Performance Arts Center on Thursday, April 29. The celebration welcomed family, friends and teammates and was as close to “normal” as any indoor event has been on the high school’s campus post-COVID-19 shutdown.
Second-year head girls’ basketball coach Ashlaa Zuniga had three student-athletes from her program sign letters of intent that afternoon. Two of those — Mya Williams (Hutchinson Community College) and Brionna Parker (University of Dallas) — will play collegiately on the basketball court, while Taznejia Valencia is headed to Southwestern Assemblies of God University for track-and-field.
“Any time you have a student-athlete sign any national letter of intent, you know it is a blessing,” Zuniga said. “As you increase and go up [in college], we know that fewer people will be able to remain involved in sports. So, to have three young ladies continue their playing careers, you are very excited as a coach. I’m blessed to have coached them and am glad that they got to have this moment.”
The Lady Indians finished a heavily COVID-altered season 7-15 overall and 4-8 in District 11-6A. Two of those district losses were classified as forfeits due to several positive COVID tests amongst the players and coaches.
Waxahachie did, however, win its final two games played against Waco High (63-45) and Waco Midway (64-52).
The Lady Indians were 10-21 the season before, which was the first under Zuniga. The modest growth in winning percentage and jump in program signees — from one to three — is encouraging for the first-time head coach.
“As a coach, you always have to look for the positives, especially when you have a season that doesn’t have a lot of wins,” explained Zuniga, a former all-state standout at Cedar Hill and scholarship student-athlete at Texas A&M University. “I think young ladies being able to believe in their coaching staff and their ability to get them further in their athletic career is huge. I think our young ladies know that we are intentional about our relationships with them. So, when we tell them that with more practice, opportunity and dedication, you can make this jump [to college], I believe that helps the program.”
Zuniga pointed to Parker as the prime example of her investment-based approach to building a program. Parker averaged 2.3 points per game and 2.2 rebounds during her senior campaign but showed great strides in overall basketball IQ and buy-in as the season progressed.
“I don’t know if she would’ve felt like or put in the work or if any of that would’ve happened if she did not have a coaching staff that routinely reminder her of our belief in her,” elaborated Zuniga as underclassmen began to filter into the Grey Gym for an afternoon practice. “We all knew that she was more than capable of doing more than what she had done.”
And then there is Williams, who has been one of — if not — the most prolific scorers to come through the program over the past decade.
The four-year letterman began her career with a zero-point, one assist showing against Burleson on Nov. 2, 2017. It was the only scoreless outing of her high school career.
Williams went on to average 10.3 PPG throughout her freshman campaign. She tallied her first 20-point performance just four games later and would go on to tally 20-or-more points 30 times for the Lady Indians.
Williams recorded her first of three double-doubles on Nov. 8, 2018, with 28 points and 12 rebounds against Dallas Carter.
As a sophomore, Williams scored a then-career-high 33 points on Dec. 27, 2018, against Briarcrest Christian. She then bested that with a 36-point game in a 64-43 victory against South Oak Cliff to begin her senior season.
Williams averaged 10.3, 15.9, 16.8 and 19.3 PPG, respectively, over each of her four varsity seasons.
“Mya is the kind of kid who, once you look back after they have completed their four years, realize that your program will never be the same,” Zuniga said. “But, you also know it’s because it’s going to be better because of them. Mya has always worked hard and done everything that I’ve asked of her. I know that is difficult when you have a new coach in the middle of your high school career.
“COVID affected her recruiting, but she has always had a positive outlook, and I think that has always been her case. She has always worked to control the controllable, and I think [Hutchinson Community College] is going to be a great fit for her. I am excited to see what her ‘next’ looks like and the ‘next’ after that.”
The complete list of Waxahachie student-athletes to partake in the final signing day of the year included:
• Haley Lindsey – Track – Southwestern Assemblies of God University
• Taznejia Valencia – Track – Southwestern Assemblies of God University
• Madyson Henderson – Track – Southwestern Assemblies of God University
• Montez Young Jr. – Basketball – University of Texas at Arlington
• Brionna Parker – Basketball – University of Dallas
• Mya Williams – Basketball – Hutchinson Community College
• Briuna Harper – Volleyball – Lakeland University (Wisconsin)
• Jace Robinson – Football – Evangel University
• Luke Villarreal – Soccer – Mary-Hardin Baylor
• Josh Jammer – Baseball – Mountain View College
• Jh’Marques Head – Football – West Texas A&M University
All photos by Travis M. Smith/KBEC Sports
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith