Oct. 30, 2008
Tara Watts is an important part of the Rice women's basketball team. She is an intelligent player and a good role model for young athletes around the country - and even internationally.
Watts is a junior guard for the Owls who started all 32 games in her sophomore season. She brings a lot to the table for the team, coming all the way from Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada. In addition to her excellent play for Rice, Watts was awarded the C-USA Sportsmanship Award for her attitude on and off the court. This award was given to her based on massive support from the Rice coaching staff.
`Sportsmanship' is a word tossed around by many coaches around the country as an honorable trait for an athlete. Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines sportsmanship as "fairness, respect for one's sport, and the graciousness of winning or losing."
So many athletes attempt to be good sportspeople; however, few truly accomplish the feat. It is no coincidence that Watts won the award among only two others out of all the C-USA student-athletes.
"Last year my coaches nominated me for the sportsmanship award for C-USA," Watts said. "I won it along with guys from East Carolina and Memphis. We won it for our good attitudes, we help out in the community and we never talk back to refs."
Watts and her women's basketball teammates have helped out around the Houston community on a consistent basis throughout her career, including at the Houston Food Bank, Ronald McDonald House nd reading to children at Poe Elementary School. She and the team are more than willing to give back to the community.
In fact, last weekend Rice hosted the Houston Marathon Kids event. The women's basketball team was one of the many Rice teams to assist the kids at the event.
"Last weekend we just went out to the kids' marathon that we hosted at the Rice track," Watts said. "We gave them high fives. We were there helping out. It was great to help the kids and give them our support."
Watts is an incredible sportsman, as her coaches would say, which makes her a great representative of the Rice community. But what pulls a basketball player from Vancouver the west coast of Canada, over 2,500 miles to Houston?
"I had never heard of Rice until the coach started recruiting me," Watts said. "However, once I started looking into it the academics, the basketball program, and the college system - it all seemed like a really good fit for my education. I'm a psychology major, pre-med. I want to go to medical school and become a GP or an ER doctor."
In addition to her willingness to help out in the community, her difficult pre-med schedule and the positive attitude that she brings to her team, Watts also brings some international basketball experience. A basketball trip to China last August would surely add an element to Watts' game.
"I played for the U-21-22 national [basketball] team over the summer," Watts said. "We went to China to scrimmage their Olympic team before the Olympics. We lost all three games, but it was a really good experience. We only lost by six points for our final game. I remember thinking I played that girl when I was watching the Olympics!"
Watts' high aspirations as a student and her nationally - and internationally - recognized sportsmanship make her a sure fit for one of Tomorrow's Leaders.