Loves game, hates to lose

The Baltimore Sun

A junior forward for Perry Hall's up-and-coming girls basketball team, Rachel Smith has been a varsity athlete since the first season of her freshman year. She also plays field hockey and lacrosse and was captain of the hockey and basketball teams this school year. Smith, whose Gators are seeded second in the Class 4A North region, averages 10.2 points and 6.3 rebounds. She plans to become a nurse. Smith also hunts deer with her dad.

What is your earliest sports memory?

When I first started playing [basketball] ... they always told me how aggressive I was. I was fouling out my first game, and I remember sitting on the bench just crying my eyes out. Everyone was like, "You're throwing elbows and you're doing this." I said I didn't know better.

Were you a tomboy?

Yeah, Daddy's girl. When I was little, I hunted with my dad. I started when I was 10. I haven't gone the past year or so because of high school sports, the commitment. When I was younger, he used to take me out of school for a little bit, but now you can't. If you don't go to practice, you can't play. I love being outdoors. I go fishing, camping.

What sports did you play when you were younger?

I was a cheerleader, which surprises everyone. I played soccer and I played basketball, lacrosse and field hockey. I didn't start field hockey until freshman year.

Which is you favorite sport?

My favorite sport is basketball. I love the contact. I love only having five girls on the court, so you're always seen. With lacrosse, it's 12 girls and it's hard to be noticed. And you get the ball a lot more. There's more scoring.

Which sport are you best at?

My parents tell me lacrosse, but I guess because I love basketball so much I will deny that.

Your team was within a game of getting to the county championship game [last week] but lost to Catonsville. Do you consider this season successful at this point?

I do, because all year, it's been our goal to go to the county championship. That didn't happen, but we stayed strong throughout the whole game. We never gave up.

Which sport do you want to play in college?

I want to play basketball in college, but then I always have my ifs with lacrosse, so I'm just waiting to see. I'm keeping my options open.

How big is the time commitment to play three sports and maintain a 3.59 grade-point average?

It is extremely tough. I walk into school sometimes and my teachers are like, "Rachel, you need sleep." They're like, "Go to a doctor." [Laughs.] You don't get home till late, so you're doing your homework at 12 o'clock at night or you're rushing to finish it before your game. You have to be pretty responsible and be organized.

What do you do on those rare days between seasons when you don't have practice?

I hang out with my friends because, most of the time, my friends are texting me like: "Why can't you ever hang out. It's always sports." My cousin's like, "Can you have a life?" It's time catching up with my friends or sleeping.

Do you always take the losses to heart?

Yeah, I do. I'm basically the only one never satisfied on my team. I just hate losing. The thing that runs in my family is competitiveness. I hate losing no matter what it is.

Were you competitive with your sisters growing up?

We're a very close family, but we always had our separate hobbies, so it was never like sister-to-sister competitiveness. It was more me, my dad and then my cousins. We even had a game shirt where if you had the biggest deer that year, you signed the shirt and you got this big prize. Even that was so ridiculous. When we went on vacation, we were even competitive. We went on the beach at 12 o'clock at night, and it was all my cousins and us lined up and we were just racing on the beach and we were bragging about it for weeks.

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