HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) – Over the years, the friendly town has had several basketball stars, including Stephanie Howard of the Northeast District.
These days, Stephanie doesn’t spend much time on the three-point line.
“People ask me when’s the last time you played and I usually tell them, I play like like once a year,” she explained.
But after a few warm-up shots, you’d never know. Basketball has been a part of his life since his days at Spotswood Elementary.
“It’s a sport I played. I learned quickly and got good at it. I’ve loved it ever since,” she said.
She went on to the Spotswood game at Harrisonburg High School, where she would score over 1,300 points as the Blue Streak, a record at the time.
“It was just good to build that teamwork effort,” she said. “It was definitely a learning experience.”
After completing HHS, she went on to play for Radford University, where women’s basketball coach Charlene Curtis recruited Stephanie to play for the Highlanders.
“She saw me play and she took a chance. I can’t thank her enough for that,” Stephanie said.
“With her, I knew I had that connection because she knew I really cared about her being successful,” Coach Curtis said.
This chance propelled the Highlanders to new heights. In 1989, Stephanie became the first UK basketball player (male or female) to score 2,000 points. She was also part of the junior national team. In 1995, she was inducted into the Radford Sports Hall of Fame.
“I always tell people she’s probably the best player I’ve ever coached,” coach Curtis said.
Stephanie then played basketball professionally in Switzerland.
“Being able to play professionally was a dream come true for me. The WNBA hadn’t arrived yet. For me, it was a goal that I achieved,” she explained.
After 8 years abroad, she returned home.
“I was starting to get tired. I just decided to come back. My level of motivation was a little less than before. I always knew that when I got there it would be time,” she said.
Once back in the United States, she took on a new position.
“I came back to my community. Worked with a lot of kids who were from the community at the time. I take this role very seriously. I think people see that and they respect me for that and for that I’m blessed,” she said.
First the Boys and Girls Club, then overseeing the Lucy Simms Center, mentoring a new generation.
“Just being able to help someone else. If you’ve ever been successful somewhere or if you’ve ever been through something, the lessons you have, the information you have, that’s so valuable to that person who’s trying to get to where you are,” Stephanie said. .
Stephanie emphasizes the importance of representation.
“Whether it’s someone who looks like you in terms of color or in terms of being female or male,” she said. “Having someone to say, ‘they’re where I’d like to be’ and having some interaction with them, sharing what it took to get them to where they were or where they are, that’s is very important.”
Although it’s rare to see Stephanie playing a game, you might see her in another uniform. She referees games at the college level. She says this role gave her a new perspective on basketball.
Stephanie credits her family, friends and members of her community for shaping the woman she is today.
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