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Finding Motivation

Aug 6, 2013

When rising sophomore Shereen Sutherland was growing up, she dabbled in all kinds of sports. She knew she wanted to play something, she just wasn’t sure which sport she liked best.

It wasn’t until she looked to her one and only sibling, her older sister Aishah, and started watching her play a sport she loved—basketball.

“She was all about basketball,” Shereen said. “That was the only sport she played. I saw her progress, how proud her parents were of her and how good she was and I thought, ‘I want to be like my sister, I want to do that.’ So then I started playing. She is the reason I play basketball.”

Years later, Aishah went on to play collegiate ball at the University of Kansas and Shereen got to travel with her family from their home in California to go watch her play.

“I enjoyed going to her games,” Shereen said. “It was snowy and cold, but I loved seeing Aishah and the fans. The little kids would make posters and I was so proud to be her sister. Watching her play in college was my motivation.”

Aishah has taken her game to the next level, now playing professionally for Azzurra Orvierto in Italy.

Despite the distance, the sisters have not lost touch.

“My sister and I talk every day,” Shereen said. “The fact that we don’t see each other every day helps our relationship, so when we go home we are always together. Whenever I go home, she makes it a point to pick me up from the airport. We get really excited and count down the days until we get to see each other.”

Shereen turns to her sister for advice and found it especially helpful when dealing with the rigorous workouts when coming in as a freshman in 2012.

“Any time I have problems, or conflicts I reach out to her and get her input,” Shereen said. “‘Did you have to deal with this? What did you do? What do I do?’ When I first started workouts last summer, they were killing us! And I called my sister and was like, ‘Did you guys have to run this much? Did you do all this weight-lifting? Was it that heavy?’ And she said, ‘Yeah, I had to do this and that.’ And I thought, ‘okay, if you can do this, I can do this. I can make it. This is not too much.’”

Life outside of basketball can also prove challenging and Aishah has been there for Shereen on that front as well.

“Whenever I have problems with people, or with school, I talk to her,” Shereen said. “When I wanted to change my major, I called her and asked her about it, because I wanted to major in communications and that’s what she majored in. I asked her about the classes, if it was a good fit for me and if I would enjoy doing it.”

On Aishah’s end, she enjoys nothing more than acting as a mentor for her younger sister.

“I am extremely proud of my sister with her growth and accomplishments,” Aishah said. “I am overwhelmed with happiness when I see she has followed the path given to her and not wasting her God-given talents on the court and her studies. I’m grateful that she looks up to me and places me in such a strong role in her life.”

Watching Shereen grow from a little girl and seeing her immense growth has made Aishah an extremely proud older sister.

“As I watch her grow as a young lady, I remember the adversity and struggles athletes run into,” Aishah said. “Witnessing my sister being able to overcome adversity and move past the struggles shows me how much she has grown. As she continues to grow, I am there every step of the way, there for her in every way she needs me.”