In sports, an athlete’s origin story is often much more than just a beginning. Often, their beginning becomes their story that can even transfer into their everyday life because, despite how cliché it might sound, sports are more than just a game. Sports are who the players are and what they’ve been through.
Freshman basketball player Jenna Dudra first stepped on a basketball court in junior high; it was in large part because of family. She recalled times she would watch her sister play, her pure excitement after a regionals victory and finding herself wanting to experience the same one day. Her parents also played a key role in Dudra’s development, constantly supporting and encouraging her to be the best version of herself both on and off of the court. Dudra said her parents always “[Pushed] me through many barriers in life. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them.”
But her family’s role did not stop after the early part of her career, they continue to influence her love and desire for basketball to this day. Dudra explained, “I play game after game for them. I love when I come out of the locker room even after a bad game and they hug me and tell me I did good. I play for them. They inspire me to keep being me and push through whatever life throws at me.” It’s that family bond that translates into her game even at the collegiate level as she sees her teammates as her second family
Despite being in only her first season, Dudra has established herself as a dominant force, a real pain for opponents, especially on the defensive end. She’s constantly displaying her tremendous reflexes by frequently seeming to come out of nowhere with a quick burst of speed before running the opposite direction on a fast break. Through her first 21 games in a Blackburn uniform, Dudra has racked up 68 steals, more than twice as many as her next closest teammate.
Looking at the succes she has had so far at Blackburn, it might be hard to believe that there was a time when Dudra lost her motivation and passion after the passing of a close friend. “[That was] the worst thing to ever happen to me… I just wanted to quit everything,” she remembered. “He didn’t deserve that, to be out of this world already, but he also pushed me to keep playing. I know he loved watching basketball, and I couldn’t just give up because I knew he would never give up on anything. [He] never let something get in his way. He loved everybody like there was no tomorrow.”
As Dudra wraps up her freshman season, she admits that she’s grown a lot since first arriving back in August but continues to stay true to herself by remembering where she comes from and refusing to give up. She lives each day like there is no tomorrow.