Gardner Giving Back On, Off The Court
By Elizabeth Teitzel
UCLA senior guard Rebekah Gardner is described by her sister as humble, hard working, and inspiring. Gardner's hard work and passion for basketball are contagious to those around her and have helped form the player she is today.
"Her enthusiasm and work ethic rubs off on the whole team," said sophomore Rhema Gardner, Rebekah's sister and teammate. "When we are all struggling she is always in our ear working to make us better. Her way of playing helps inspire us."
The elder Gardner is pursuing a degree in broadcasting and hopes to continue to work in basketball even after her career is over.
"I love basketball. If I could, I would never stop playing," Rebekah said. After college, she plans on hopefully continuing her basketball career by playing over seas or in the WNBA, but if not she would love to go into broadcasting and continue her education in some way.
"Ten years from now I see my sister (Rebekah) being a broadcaster or commentator for ESPN," Rhema said. "She is also a great writer so even if she was not in front of the camera she would be good at writing scripts."
Rebekah leads the Bruins with an average of 15.9 points per game and 55 steals on the season.
"Rebekah's biggest strength is that she is versatile. Not many can pay the price to be versatile," said UCLA head coach Cori Close. "I really admire how she puts her team first. It's her last year and she is not getting another chance to do this again, yet she is still so selfless."
Her relationship with her sister Rhema is very unique, said Close.
Rebekah is the quiet one, but it is her sister that really brings out the fun spirit in Rebekah. Both sisters admire each other's strengths and enjoy one another company.
"She is a great coach and gives back to others on the court. My sister is always helping teammates with homework and basketball skills, she is truly a natural born leader," Rhema said about her sister.
While Rhema looks up to her older sister, Rebekah shares the same inspiration playing with her sister.
"Rhema brings a lot of energy to the game," Rebekah said. "I play a lot and sometimes I am out there and she will come in and bring a burst of energy. It's very refreshing. She is really funny and it's fun to be around here. Even if she wasn't my sister I think we would still have this special connection."
One thing has always remained the same throughout Rebekah's career at UCLA - her loyalty to the Bruins. It is this same loyalty that has created success for herself at UCLA and will continue after she leaves.
"I am very proud of her and all that she has committed to UCLA and me," Close said. "How she has represented this program as a student-athlete for UCLA and her team as well. She would do anything for team and for her school that is what has helped in her success and will continue to help with the rest of her life."