Stone continues his education and basketball career overseas

Santa should stuff a box of brand new pens in Makana Stone’s Christmas stocking.

The 2016 Coupeville High School graduate continues to write new adventure-filled chapters in her still-young life story.

After completing an award-winning high school athletic career for Wolves that included all-conference honors in multiple sports and a handful of school records, Stone went on to play basketball at Whitman College. There she was a three-time All-League selection; named Northwest Conference Player of the Year last season; and earned a spot in a National All-Star Game.

She turned it all into the opportunity to study and perform at Loughborough University in London.

“I knew I wanted to keep playing basketball after Whitman,” Stone said. “But in discussing the different paths I could take with my family, coaches and mentors, I realized that playing ball this year and working to get my fluency was the best option for me rather than just focusing on basketball.”

As her career wrapped up at Whitman, Stone said she enjoyed spending time with her teammates and athletic staff the most, working at basketball camps, working at the Team Awesome Basketball Leadership Academy, and being immersed in the sports community.

She also realized that she wanted to pursue a degree in sports science.

Stone’s undergraduate work focused on ecology and environment classes, but a physiology class during her senior year produced an “a-ha” moment, which piqued her interest in science. Sport.

“I especially wanted to get a better understanding of physiology and how it relates to the needs of athletes,” she said, “because I ultimately want to work with student-athletes in the future.”

After speaking to her university coaches, Whitman alumni and recruitment agency Play Overseas, Stone sent a film to a handful of universities in the UK.

“For my academic and sporting goals, Loughborough was the obvious choice,” she said. “Loughborough is first in the world for sports-related subjects and has an elite basketball programme.”

Added bonuses, she said, are the ability to immerse yourself in a different culture and travel around Europe (when the pandemic is over). These opportunities can be just as rewarding as “going to the books,” she said.

“I gain so much knowledge just by being in this country and meeting new people from different cultures on top of what I get from my (academic) program,” Stone said. “It really is a once in a lifetime experience and I’m so thankful to be here.”

When COVID permits, she plays in two basketball leagues, which have a mix of DI-DIII equivalent players.

Loughborough’s basketball program has a “wonderful” support staff, Stone said, and there’s “a little more balance between sport, school and life” than in the United States.

Loughborough University wants to ensure a student-athlete’s success in all areas of life, according to Stone.

Stone, hoping not to appear insensitive to those who have suffered from the coronavirus, called the pandemic “a real buzzkill” in terms of athletics.

Protocols limit the quantity and quality of training, and players with symptoms have caused practices and games to be canceled. Positive tests require teams to self-isolate for 14 days.

“Getting into any type of normal training schedule or following any game schedule is pretty hard to do,” Stone said. “While I know it was a highly probable outcome this winter, it doesn’t change the fact that we all want to be on the pitch making buckets. But, despite wanting to be on the pitch, the staff at basketball and all the girls have been really responsible for making sure we are following the protocols and everyone is staying healthy.

When it comes to school, the university offers a mix of online and face-to-face classes, offers content for those who can’t attend in-person classes, and has contingency plans for interruptions.

“As someone in a new country, the pandemic hasn’t affected me much at the moment, other than having to order groceries online here and there,” she said. “I had no intention of traveling until the winter break or the summer months, although it’s more likely that I won’t travel until the summer.”

Stone noted that everyone struggles, and she’s grateful to those who have helped her — her family and support groups — through her own difficult times.

“I owe them all my success,” she said. “Likewise, I would like to give whatever support I can to other students or student-athletes who may think they want to study abroad.”

Stone expects to graduate in a year and hopes to elevate her game to compete at a higher level after Loughborough.

Which, of course, would lead to another new chapter in her ever-expanding book of life.

Rising above the defense, Makana Stone had a shot in a game earlier this winter. (Photo provided)

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