Blessed with good genes and awesome talent, 13-year-old La-Torae Nixon has the laser-sharp focus that has made her into a top sports woman and a fitting talent to be recognised for Honoring Women Month.
La-Torae, child of Larue and Latasha Nixon, played with the heart and hard work that made her the leading points scorer in the 2009 Under 19 Basketball League with 182 points. She was also named the Most Valuable Player of the All-star game.
She continued to hold those titles in the Appleby U19 league the last two years. She has added a few more accolades in the process, such as Best Defensive Player, Rebounding Champion and regular season MVP. She would also make history by becoming the first female to make a quadruple in any one basketball game with 56 points, 31 rebounds, 10 assists and 12 steals.
Arguably her crowning achievement came last week as she guided the Home Gas Flames to the 2011 national women’s league championship. The Flames took down the current dynasty in women’s basketball the Dominos Lady Heels in three games. In the process La-Torae would be named Finals MVP for leading her side to victory in the best-of-three series.
All of that success at a young age is not lost on Cayman’s basketball community. Former national women’s basketball coach Redver Ebanks, who coached against La-Torae in the women’s and U19 leagues, states she has all of the physical tools.
“Being 5ft 8in tall and with the coordination and the attitude to match, she has the potential to go far in any sport,” Ebanks noted.
A similar sentiment came from women’s sports coordinator in the Cayman Islands Sports Department Merta Day.
“We wanted to showcase La-Torae because at just age 13, she is an outstanding athlete,” Day said. “We believe that by highlighting someone so young, we will inspire other youngsters to get involved in sport, which is a good vehicle for them to acquire the discipline they need for success and to learn about living and eating healthily.”
Last year La-Torae had the experience of a life-time as she attended the first Children of the World Basketball tournament in Istanbul, Turkey. At the camp, the participants were taught various basketball skills from different coaches and were also allowed to view a few of the World Championship games.
La-Torae was quick to state it was an experience like no other. She went on to say that she was honoured and overjoyed to have been selected to represent the Cayman Islands and that it was definitely the highlight of her basketball career.
“I learned so much from this experience, both as a player and a person,” La-Torae said. While basketball is one of La-Torae’s favourite pastimes and most successful sport, she has interests in other areas. In particular she likes to fish and play volleyball. “I have always been tall and my body is built to succeed in any sport and for that I give God thanks. From a young age, I believed that ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ I still believe that today, whether in sports or in anything else.
“My parents are my greatest supporters and my biggest critics. They stress good sportsmanship, encourage me to be the best and not to compare myself to others, because there will always be some that are better and some who are not as good.”
La-Torae’s personal motto, ‘never give up,’ is adopted from Derrick Fisher. The Los Angeles Lakers point guard is one of La-Torae’s sports heroes.
“Even though he is small, he is fast and always shooting three pointers.”
Other sporting heroes are Lakers forward Devon Brown (an excellent shooter) and Cayman’s own Dionne Anglin, who La-Torae feels plays hard and makes the game look easy. She also admires Women’s National Basketball Association player Candance Parker because of the excitement she brings to that league when she dunks and since La-Torae wants to be the first female to dunk in the Cayman Islands she feels a certain connection.
Ultimately La-Torae feels delighted to be recognised for Honouring Women’s Month. She also hopes to improve her game with the help of local coaches.
“Even though I am not yet a woman, this is my first time being honoured in this way. I hope I can grow up to be a good role model and a good example for other young people and women. I encourage all young people to get involved in some sporting activity because it teaches patience through continued practice and it instills discipline and respect for your peers, coaches and other officials. Most of all, it teaches you to never give up.
“I would like to thank all my coaches for their good advice and the support they have offered me over the years. I would also like to encourage business owners to continue to fund various sports.”