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the roar | people | 13

friday, may 13, 2011

AHEAD F THE CURVE

Consol graduate shares basketball national championship victory with mom BY KENDRA SPAW

assistant editor

Just substituted out of the basketball game against Notre Dame on Tuesday, April 5, center Karla Gilbert, a former varsity basketball player at Consol, sat tensely on the bench cheering for her team along with hundreds of fans. With only a minute and a half left in the game, point guard Tyra White made the three-point shot and everyone knew that the Texas A&M women’s basketball team had won the National Championship. “We knew we were champs, but we couldn’t believe it was real,” Gilbert said. Gilbert was able to play in the biggest game in college basketball as a freshman, and her mom, who was also a college basketball player, said she could not have been more proud. “This was an experience that I was glad to share with her,” Mrs. Gilbert said. “I felt like I was playing, so I won a national championship as well.” Gilbert’s mother can easily relate to this moment of glory because of her own past in the game of basketball. “I was a junior college All-American basketball player, but as for winning a championship, I never went as far as Karla,” Mrs. Gilbert said. In addition to playing college basketball, Mrs. Gilbert also spent six years of coaching at Consol, and with this knowledge she has been a large influence on Gilbert’s experience in the game. “Ever since I can remember, my parents have been there for me, and they have been coaching me from the very beginning,” Gilbert said. Although Mrs. Gilbert’s coaching attitude has pushed Gilbert to the limit, making her mentally tough, she is still an average and loving mother, Gilbert said. “We talk about what we need to talk about, but other than that, it is dropped, and she’s my mom, not my coach,” Gilbert said. Mrs. Gilbert admits to being the coach at home but does not interfere with Gilbert’s coach at Texas A&M, Gary Blair. “He does a good job with dealing with her, so as far as basketball coaching, we just tell her to move her feet more or something but nothing that interferes with what the coach tells her,” Mrs. Gilbert said. The coach has done a marvelous job this season getting the girls to work as a team, but their bonding goes beyond the court, Mrs. Gilbert said. “She’s got players that push her, that make her stronger and that even off the court hang out with one another,” Mrs. Gilbert said. Gilbert agrees that the team gets along well, but they still work hard. “We are allowed to have fun even at the worst times,” Gilbert said. “We dance and sing and just have fun, but no matter how many games we’ve played, we have always stuck to the routine and had intense practices and never slacked off. We are still expected to practice as hard as we had any

other time.” Since the girls are gone so much for away games, it can be hard to stay up with the school work. “Luckily, her professors are willing to help her get caught up and stay caught up so that she can pass her classes,” Mrs. Gilbert said. “Freshman adjustment, especially as a student athlete, is extremely hard, but I cannot go anywhere without hearing from people that interact with [Karla] that say how hard of a worker she is in order to play the game.” Gilbert handles all her responsibility with time management, yet keeping up with academics has still been a struggle, she said. Gilbert has noticed differences between high school and college. “High school basketball and college basketball are completely different,” Gilbert said. “In high school, you have more freedom. With college basketball, you can gain a lot of respect because it’s a lot of hard work to play Texas A&M basketball. What you can get out of it and the accomplishments are bigger now over all, so it pays off more.” The Aggie women’s team has definitely accomplished much this year including a national title and the emotion of receiving such and honor is almost indescribable, Mrs. Gilbert said. “That moment of all the hard work is like an adrenaline rush and all of a sudden when you’ve done it you’re like ‘oh God, thank you’ and your body goes limp,” Mrs. Gilbert said. “All of that hard work, and all the sacrifices and practices and film that they went through paid off, and now they finally can be rewarded for it.” Gilbert plans to continue to represent both Consol and Texas A&M next season. “Next year we hope to go back with high expectations again,” Gilbert said. “We want to try for a repeat to meet our goals.”

Karla Gilbert and her mother Nelda Gilbert share a love of basketball. Nelda Gilbert, a former Consol basketball player and later coach, cheered on her daughter Karla, a freshman at Texas A&M, as she played in the national championship on April 5 in Indianapolis. PHOTO BY LAURA EVERETT

DID YOU KNOW? Career and technology teacher Nelda Gilbert and assistant principal Gwen Elder played on the basketball team together here at Consol from 1983-1986. Elder and Gilbert have been best friends for over 25 years. Elder was an assistant coach for nine years and Gilbert was a head coach for six years at Consol, and they both retired to spend more time with family. Gilbert played basketball in college for Odessa Junior College and the University of North Texas. Elder played college basketball at McLennan Community College and the University of North Alabama. Gilbert and Elder both played in the state championship in 1986. Compiled by Kendra Spaw

Vol. 16 Issue 6  
Vol. 16 Issue 6  

The last issue of the Roar for the 2010-2011 school year, including senior pages.

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