Finishing four years of college in two years, second year guard Ly’rell Walker, majoring in entrepreneurship, fulfilled her requirements and will be graduating this May and ends her two years of basketball with the Plattsburgh State women’s basketball team.
“After the last game, I was just sitting there like ‘it’s crazy. It’s really over.’It hurts when you stop playing cause it’s something you’ve been doing since seven grade. It sucks, but like I said, it was a great experience. I’m happy that I had the opportunity to do it,” Walker said.
Walker used to play softball before seventh grade and decided to change things up and try another sport. She tried basketball and found herself doing OK and decided to keep going with it. She enjoyed traveling and the experience she had with her team from seventh grade through high school, which developed her passion and strong relationship with basketball.
“When I visited the campus, I had a few options, and when I came to Plattsburgh, just the atmosphere alone, it was just something completely different, something I didn’t get from other places,” Walker said.
Walker also said the team of amazing people with different stories and the coaches made her feel welcomed in Plattsburgh. She started her freshman year closed off and was a quiet player. She said the team helped her open up and the chemistry was strong within the team.
Sending off seniors was tough for Walker in her freshman year and to graduate with senior Taylor Clare and Taylor Durnin was mind-blowing for her. She learned commitment, respect, teamwork and resilience through basketball and grew physically and mentally as a person.
Head coach Cheryl Cole said the team knew it was Walker’s goal to graduate in two years when recruitment started, so it was not a surprise. Cole said she would definitely love to have Walker on the team for four years as she said Walker is a talented player and beyond that, she is a better person.
“She’s a unique individual who is obviously, to get it done in two years, has her act together,” Cole said. “In my career, I have had a lot of strong academics students and have done really impressive things, but I have never had somebody come in as a true freshman and graduate in two years, so hats off to her.”
Cole also said Walker has good work ethics, a goal-driven person and nothing will stop her from reaching her goals. According to Cole, Walker has a tremendous basketball IQ and was a leader on the team. Cole described Walker as a student of the game and said Walker doesn’t just show up but also puts in extra time in.
“For us on the floor, besides being a leader, she was definitely a match-up nightmare for the opponents,” Cole said.
Attending an early-college high school had Walker set up with resources that helped her graduate high school with 50 credits and 40 credits that transferred to PSU. This cut off Walker’s general education courses the first two years of college.
Walker said the experience of two years of college was rushed as she takes six classes a semester with playing on the basketball team while also picking up some classes in summer and winter breaks.
Walker said being on the basketball team helped her with time management and playing basketball keeps her in a mindset that she has other responsibilities too.
“I had the opportunity. I already have 40 credits. It doesn’t make sense to get ahead and just take the time off. I’m already ahead, might as well stay ahead,” Walker said.
Walker is continuing to pursue her MBA degree and wants to own her own business in the future. She is still working on her graduate school details but she hopes to attend Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) or Clark Atlanta University.
Walker would love to open a store similar to Century 21 where they sell designer clothing, but with black designers. She wants to open a space for black designer’s clothing and create brand awareness and provide jobs for others drives her to wanting to own her business.
“Because you don’t see it often and I feel like you should see more. It should be something more of a regular basis,” Walker said on African American and women representation in entrepreneurship. “You actually see more women now in business now, which is big, but if we can have more African American women, more Latino women, more minority women in business, that would be even better.”
Walker hopes to inspire future generations, especially African American women and hopefully they would bring that to other people and continue on the action to bring not just themselves but others up.
Walker is looking forward to grow and to learn more about herself and what she stands for.
“Never settle. Keep the drive. She has that drive, and I told her, ‘Running a business is tough’,” Cole said to Walker. “Don’t give up on your dreams because the only one that will keep you from getting it would be herself.”
Email Kai Bing Ang at firstname.lastname@example.org