Vaishnavi chases the US dream
Vaishnavi was on Thursday signed by Pensacola State College to play for their team, Lady Pirates, in the National Junior College Athletic AssociationDivision 1, Region 8.Updated: May 25, 2019 09:14 IST
It was her aversion to classrooms that took Vaishnavi Yadav to the playing fields. “I didn’t want to study and was always playing with kids in the neighbourhood. As there were not many girls, I use to play with boys. I had to suffer beating by my mother, as my parents wanted me to concentrate on studies,” says Vaishnavi.
She comes from a city in Uttar Pradesh where everyone looked down on her playing sports— neighbours passed snide remarks seeing her in shorts. But it’s that enthusiasm and grit that has helped her book a ticket to the US as a basketball player—and become an inspiration for girls in Allahabad.
Vaishnavi was on Thursday signed by Pensacola State College to play for their team, Lady Pirates, in the National Junior College Athletic AssociationDivision 1, Region 8.
The 17-year-old Sania Mirza fan wanted to play tennis. But her first coach— “He persuaded the tennis coach to reject me as I was showing promise in basketball”—saw to it that she stayed with basketball. Vaishnavi is one of the most promising talents in India. She made everyone take notice when she shot 71 points for UP against Kerala in the junior nationals in Ludhiana last year, the highest score by an Indian woman player. It got her a seat in the NBA Academies India.
The 5’7” shooting guard, whose dream is to play in the Women’s NBA, says: “I never imagined I would get an opportunity to play and study in America. It is a great chance to play under new coaches, new system, and learn in one of the best systems in the world. What matters is I have made my family proud,” she said over phone.
She had to clear the GRE exam, required for college admission in the US. “When I was told I had to clear an exam to get a chance to play in America, I told my counsellor ‘no way I will get through this exam.’ But coach Blair Hardiek coaxed me to give it a try and I managed to do the impossible.”
Vaishnavi credits her father after his initial reluctance. “Once I got into the state team, my father became a big supporter. He stopped working as a milkman, sold off the cows and set up a hostel for students so that he could take me for practice.”