Arizona's Arnold: Small Stature, Big Heart

By Keyon Johnson

Growing up as the youngest sibling in the family can be a polarizing experience. It can be great in the sense that all of the older siblings look at you as the baby and spoil you rotten. Or it can be the other way around, where the older brothers and sisters may continuously pick on you in an attempt to toughen you up.

For Arizona senior point guard Shanita Arnold - the youngest of eight and the only female - it had to be pretty rough. In order for her to gain the respect of her older siblings, she had to fit to do whatever was necessary to fit in. Needless to say, the notion of the baby girl playing with Barbie dolls and jump rope was replaced with wrestling matches, video games, music and going outside to play sports like football and basketball.

Arnold didn't shy away from that because she loved being around her brothers. She also learned that being tough and aggressive had more to do with the muscle that you can't physically work out: the heart.

"A lot of people may look at you and figure that you are fast and you're small and they may think just because they are bigger or stronger than you, they can beat you," Arnold said.  "It is a will and a want to. It is a mindset or a mental thing and it goes back to having that heart."

That heart is what keeps this 5-foot-5 point guard from Fort Smith, Ark., playing passionate basketball despite some setbacks in conference play for the Wildcats.

"Our expectations are to win and not come close," she said. "Even if we come up short we have to play with heart and continue to play with heart."

Arnold played her high school ball at Fort Smith Northside, where she helped lead the Lady Bears to a state championship her senior season. She earned and accepted a scholarship to the University of Arkansas where she played for two seasons with the Razorbacks. She started all 32 games during her sophomore season and averaged 5.7 points per game and 2.3 assists per game. After that season she decided to make a change to the Pac-12 and the University of Arizona.

"It was a change, something different," Arnold said. "...Arizona has always been a school that I have heard about and known since I was younger. I wanted to try something different."

That change has been great for Arnold as she has become one of the leaders for the Wildcats. Arnold plans to continue playing basketball after she completes her senior season and explore other avenues that she enjoys as well.

"I plan to go overseas and continue to play basketball," Arnold said. "If that doesn't work out, I want to do something with music and see where that takes me."

Music has always been apart of Arnold's life. It provides excitement prior to games and settles her down after. Arnold considers herself a music connoisseur.

"I just like music." Arnold said. "I like all music, there is not just one type that I don't listen to. If you looked in my iPod you will see rock, pop, rhythm & blues, you will see rap, and country. I am just a big music fan and always have been a music fan. That is what my brothers and I would do in our free time."

Arnold also dabbles in art herself. She has a few songs online and will not shy away from singing live.

"I am pretty nice (at performing) karaoke," she said.