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Local Sports Hero

01 June 2015 Written by  By Michelle Lassle
Published in June 2015 Articles

When Cydnee Kinslow’s grandmother realized just how tall her granddaughter was going to be, she knew right away that Cydnee should be enrolled in a basketball league.

“I’ve been playing basketball recreationally since I was four,” Cydnee said, but she didn’t begin to take the sport seriously until 7th and 8th grade when she started practicing with the Freedom High School team. “They asked me to come out and work with them because I was tall, and they knew they could use me when I got there my freshman year.” So Cydnee took the invitation and started getting ready for the road ahead, and it came as no surprise that she made it straight onto the Freedom varsity team her first year.

Basketball has always been Cydnee’s sport. She never tried any others growing up and didn’t participate in any other organized sport until this year as a junior, when she decided to play volleyball in order to work on her vertical leap and foot work for the basketball season. “Basketball is my passion; I love it,” Cydnee said. “I’m outside in my garage shooting 500 shots a day on the shooting machine and doing ladders and ball handling drills to always try and improve.” In addition to playing for Freedom, Cydnee also plays for Cal Stars, a prestigious tournament team that is well known across the country. She began her journey with the top tier team last summer when another player tore her ACL. The coach approached Cydnee about filling the position, and she agreed. “We packed up the next week, and we were gone for 30 days traveling to places like South Carolina, Georgia, Illinois, and Oregon,” Cydnee said. “It was a big step for me.” With college scouts courtside or in the stands watching, and every girl constantly competing for their spot on the team and time on the court, Cydnee realizes the pressure that is on her. “It’s the best team in Northern California, so the coach’s expectations are really high.”

Freedom’s varsity basketball girls struggled this year; however it was a vast improvement from their last season, going from being blown out by 40-50 points to barely losing by 3-6 points. “We had a lot of young players move up because we lost so many seniors,” Cydnee said. “It was more of a building year for us, but we could definitely see the improvement. Hopefully next year will be even better.” For Cydnee personally, it was an amazing year. She received 1st Team All-League for the first time, having earned 2nd Team All-League her freshman and sophomore years. She was also third on the list for league MVP but was beat out by a player whose team went to the playoffs. Cydnee also broke the school’s record for most rebounds last year and then re-broke it this year with 27. She is currently number one in the county for average blocks per game, which is 9.8. “It’s been a big year for me statistically.” The reason why Cydnee has done so well for herself is clear once she explains her schedule. “I work out three times a day,” Cydnee said. “I come home from school and workout during my off period for an hour, then I go back to school and workout right when I get home, and then I lift weights.” The high school junior is determined to improve her abilities. “If I’m sitting inside watching TV, someone else on the other side of the country is outside working.”

Due to her hard work and endless dedication to the sport, Cydnee’s improvements awarded her the opportunity to try out for the USA team in Colorado Springs last year. With 160 people from around the country competing for a spot, in addition to the 12 returning players, Cydnee was impressed with how far she made it. “I made it to the 3rd out of four total rounds,” Cydnee said. “It was more than I ever dreamed of, and it has opened a lot of doors for me.” Cydnee is hoping to get another chance this year. Somehow Cydnee also finds the time to be involved with her school’s leadership class and volunteers hours to the special education kids on campus. Last year Cydnee brought unified basketball to the special education kids at Freedom and was the first to do so on the west coast. The varsity boys and girls basketball players mix in with the special education students to play against one another. Cydnee even got neighboring schools to join and create a league. “My grandparents bought them uniforms with their names on the back,” Cydnee said. “At the first game the gym was completely packed. Everybody cheers for each other, and it’s a huge uplifting thing for the school.” On top of her nonstop regimen, Cydnee manages to maintain a 4.0 GPA.

Cydnee has already been in contact with various college coaches and has been visiting campuses all around the U.S. So far she has received a full-ride offer from USF, but she’s in no rush to commit anywhere. “One of my top schools right now is Oregon University,” Cydnee said, “but my goal is to work to get my entire college paid for.” She hopes to major inbusiness and minor in a field focused on special education kids, which is one of her passions. Of course Cydnee would like to play basketball professionally. “I’d love to get paid for doing something that I love, but my ultimate goal is to obtain a great education.”

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