By BETO HOYOS
Sophomore forward Melody McLaughlin began playing organized basketball in 7th grade. Most athletes who attend college on an athletic scholarship start sooner, but hard work and a love for the game allowed her to evolve into a talented player.
McLaughlin’s a lifelong Tucsonan who attended Mountain View High School. She realized during high school that basketball could take her places.
“My sophomore year of high school I got on a club team and I started to take basketball more serious,” she said. “I didn’t really expect to play in college but once I got serious about it I knew it was something I wanted to do.”
Spare time doesn’t come often, but she enjoys riding quads and partaking in outdoor recreation.
The time consuming schedule and demands of the student-athlete life is rigorous on the body and mind.
“To be a student-athlete, you have to have mental toughness and physical toughness,” McLaughlin said. “We’re working out every single day, we’re playing all the time, then you have to get rest.”
Head coach Todd Holthaus said he looks to McLaughlin for leadership.
“She’s a great girl, a smart girl,” he said.
McLaughlin can’t see her life without basketball. “If I don’t play for a day or two, it’s just weird to me,” she said. “I just love it.”
Basketball has allowed McLaughlin to grow off the court and become a better person.
“I’ve definitely become more of a leader and a role model, and it’s made me more assertive,” she said.
The sport has also taught McLaughlin to cope with both hard times and triumph.
“I use basketball every day,” she said. “Whether I’m having problems or it’s a good day, it’s just a part of my everyday life.”
After McLaughlin finishes her time at PCC, she wants to continue playing college basketball.
“I’m hoping to play somewhere else after this, I mean that’s the goal,” she said.
McLaughlin is still undecided about what career to pursue. She plans to continue her education and knows basketball will likely help pick up the tuition fee.
“Basketball will help me pay for my school, I hope, but besides that basketball has been what I’ve been looking forward to,” she said.
It also adds an extra touch of motivation in the classroom.
“I like school but basketball definitely motivates me to go to school and do well,” she said.
McLaughlin is the youngest of three half-siblings and says her supportive family has made her basketball experience even more memorable.
“My parents always try to make every game, and they always tell my friends to show up,” she said.
“I couldn’t do it without the support of my parents and my former high school coach.”