CHICAGO, Ill., August 12, 2013 - When we’re little, everyone jokingly asks what we want to be when we grow up. We might have said a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher or an astronaut. And each year, our answers probably changed after experiencing new things.
But former JMU women’s basketball star Tamera Young (JMU ’08) always knew what she wanted to be when she grew up.
“When I was younger, I used to always tell my mother that I was going to major in basketball,” the forward reflected. “She always said ‘that’s not a major!’ So after I got drafted, I said ‘see? I told you I was going to major in basketball.”
While Young actually majored in kinesiology, she has made her living playing basketball. She was the No. 8 selection by the Atlanta Dream in the 2008 WNBA Draft, the first draft pick in JMU women’s basketball history. After spending a season and a half with the Dream, she was traded to the Chicago Sky where she currently sees considerable time off the bench.
“I’ve just been trying to be that spark of energy off the bench and help the team anyway I can,” she acknowledged. “I’m known as the energizer bunny and the defense stopper…it just brings our intensity up, so I think it’s an important role.”
Young is currently averaging 16.8 minutes per game off the bench, grabbing 4.1 rebounds and posting 5.5 points per game. Over the course of her career, she has averaged 20.2 minutes of playing time per game with 3.5 rebounds and 6.8 points per outing.
In 2012, Young became the sixth player in Sky history to surpass the 1,000-point mark. Since that point, she has increased her point total to nearly 1,200 points.
But Young is not content to simply play the game she’s loved her whole life for a few months out of the year. When the WNBA adjourns for the year, she packs her bags and follows her dream overseas.
“I’ve gotten to play in Turkey, France, Spain, Latvia and Israel,” revealed Young. “I love playing the game and, overseas, it is a different game than the WNBA. My role is different, but I love being able to play the game. Seeing different cultures is great experience as well as a great blessing, so I’m fortunate for it.”
Young looks to continue living her dream of playing basketball for the foreseeable future and is still looking to snag a championship win.
“I tell myself often that I want to play at least 10 years, then get into coaching,” said Young. “I don’t really know, you can set dreams and goals down and just hope for the best.”
No matter what Young does in the future, she has already filled her resume with impressive accolades. During her time in a James Madison uniform, she set a then-school and conference record as she dropped 2,121 points on opponents. She also snagged 1,127 rebounds, just the second player in school history to surpass the 1,000-rebound plateau.
She was also a top recruit coming out of Laney High School, where she led the Buccaneers to a regular-season conference title in 2003 and back-to-back tournament championships in 2003 and 2004. Her accolades during high school earned her induction into the Laney Hall of Fame this past winter…where she had a few surprise guests for her induction.
“It was one of the biggest surprises, I had no idea they were coming!” Young remembered fondly. “Before my name was called and I went out to the floor, Coach Brooks walks in. And then the rest of the girls walked in, so it was just a shock. It was an indescribable feeling because it was so unexpected and the way it happened. I was just so excited to have them there.”
The induction fell on the same weekend that the Dukes had a game scheduled to be played at UNCW. Coach Brooks and the team were able to keep their plans of a detour secret and were on hand to watch a member of the women’s basketball family receive her award.
“The [JMU women’s basketball team] was my family for four years,” she declared. “To know that they still support me and where I am is a great feeling.”
Young does not get back as much as she would like to, but whenever she has the time, she makes her way back to Harrisonburg, even for just a day or two. And she’s forever a member of JMU Nation.
“I love JMU Nation and I miss them dearly. Go Dukes!”
The Sky is currently in first place in the WNBA’s East Conference, holding a 2.5 game lead over the Dream. Both squads will face off three more times before the regular season ends in