Senior Taqwisha Richardson had not played basketball before she arrived at Western from Roanoke Rapids, N.C., as a junior. Now, at 6 feet 1, she's the heart of the team's post game, averaging 6.8 points, 10.4 rebounds and 3.1 blocks for the defending Baltimore City champion and No. 7 Doves (9-4). She had played one year of volleyball in North Carolina and joined the Doves' volleyball team to make friends, helping Western win two city titles. With a 3.3 grade point average, she plans to become a forensic scientist and hopes to play both sports in college.
What brought you to Baltimore?
I felt it was a better environment, being up here. Roanoke Rapids is a small town and there's hardly anything to do, so I decided to move in with my grandmother and she let me come stay with her. I had lived with my mother. She's still down there. She's a truck driver, so she's gone a lot.
How is it going, living with your grandmother?
It's going well. Kind of old school, but that's OK. The rules are '80s' rules ... The [teen pregnancy] rates are really high here, so my grandmother's like 'school, basketball, that's it,' but I do have a little bit of a social life.
How did you end up playing basketball at Western?
Mr. [David] Lang, our athletic director, and two players from last year, Zhondria Benn and Lavon Woods, they saw me when I first walked in and they were like, 'You've got to play basketball.' I was like, 'I don't know how.' They said, 'We'll show you.' I was so scared because [6-2 Benn] was so big, so I tried out. I thought I made JV, and Coach [Tiffany Silver] said, 'Oh no. You're a varsity player.' Believe it or not, last year I couldn't even catch the ball and this year I'm hitting post moves.
Did you play Amateur Athletic Union basketball?
Yes. She [Silver] made sure I played the whole summer, for the Baltimore Stars. AAU helped me with my speed, as far as grabbing the ball, hand-eye coordination, learning plays faster and how to retain them and with my jump shot.
Do you wish you had started to play sports sooner?
Every day. I feel like everybody has an advantage over me, because they've been playing it longer. I shouldn't feel that. I should have confidence, but sometimes it gets to me: If I had been playing longer, maybe I could have gotten that rebound because I would have been positioned right.
What do you miss most about home?
My mother. I watch everybody else's mother come to the games and mine's not there. I wish my mother was there to cheer me on. I call her after every game and tell her how it went. I wear her basketball number, 30. That's her jersey number from high school at Roanoke Rapids High School.