Danielle Rodriguez blog: Introduction to the Utah star’s start in the game

In addition to being fleet of foot on a track (read on), Danielle Rodriguez has gone through the gauntlet of 50 minutes on the hardwood in an overtime win over heated in-state rivals BYU. That was as a sophomore.

Now, she’s a senior, a point guard as tough as they come, more skilled than most, who consistently provides one of the most well-rounded stat sheets in America. Oh, and service for others? Few give of their time more graciously.

It’s a reason why her first-year head coach, Lynne Roberts, has called her an all-conference type talent. It’s a great reason to track the Utes this year. (They’ve started 3–0, and begin play in the Junkanoo Jam today).

It’s a great reason to follow her blog, which she has agreed to do for Alley Whoops. Here’s the first entry.

Courtesy of Danielle Rodriguez

My name is Danielle Rodriguez. I am a senior point guard for the University of Utah, currently studying Business Marketing and hooping for a living. Next month, I turn 22. I could not be more happy with the life I have been blessed with so far.

I was born in East Los Angeles and spent four years there before my parents decided it would be best for my sister and I to grow up in a better neighborhood. My sister is five years older than I am, and we are almost complete opposites. Still, she is such an inspiration to me.

Our small family of four moved to Downey, Calif. My grandparents came from Mexico to give their kids and grandkids a better shot at life and my parents have done everything in their power to make sure my sister and I have had every opportunity to be who we are today.

My life changed the day my dad had me pick up a basketball. Everyone has those life-changing experiences. Maybe yours has yet to come. At 4 years old, basketball was just a sport to me at. Just a game. But as you’ll learn, life is a game, too. And sports and life can relate a lot. I played basketball every chance I could, at the park, at recess with the boys, in the front yard imagining myself in front of a crowd in a close game (literally counting down the clock like the announcer, or cheering like the crowd), and in the gym with my dad, teammates and coaches.

The countless hours I spent with the ball in my hands made me fall in love with the sport more and more. As a 6 year old, I already had dreams of playing in college or going pro. Soon, I realized I wasn’t the only one with this dream. And my dream wasn’t going to be given to me, I was going to have to work harder than I could ever imagine.

I started my freshman year of high school at 5’7, 110 lbs. I was, yes you can say it, skinny, a twig, thin, a walking skeleton, I have heard it all. I decided to try out for the cross country and track team as well as play on the basketball team. I had some great accolades in cross country running a personal record of 17 minutes, 21 seconds over three miles and helping my team win a CIF runner up trophy and 3rd in the state. Another milestone was running 4:54 in the mile.

My sophomore year of high school, I started sparking much interest from colleges for both running and basketball. I had a great run with cross country and track and at one point had to decide which I was going to do in college, run or play basketball. I stuck with the sport I had fallen in love with from the very first time I touched the ball. I graduated from high school at 5’10 and 123 lbs, still a twig or better yet a basketball player in a runner’s body.

I have battled the ups and downs throughout my years of playing basketball. I have heard the doubters who said I was too small and would never be good enough to play basketball, but I learned to listen to my supporters even more. My dad and I spent A LOT of time in the gym continuously working on my game. I worked my tail off day in and day out. I sacrificed my Friday nights and weekends to become a better basketball player. It was worth it. I was on a mission. Not to prove others wrong about me. I was on a mission to be the best I could be and on the way maybe prove them wrong too.

Utah was the very last school to contact me. There was just something about Utah I thought I had better give a shot to. After my unofficial visit I knew it was where I wanted to be. The amazing city, the bright future for the school and the fact that they had just been added to the Pac-12. It was a dream of mine to play for the Pac-12. I knew this was my shot to play in one of the best conferences for women’s basketball.

The last three years have definitely been a roller coaster ride, to say the least. But they have definitely helped me grow as a basketball player and person and have gotten me ready to take on my senior year and life. Basketball has provided me with countless opportunities, lifelong friends and an understanding for life I wouldn’t have if I wasn’t playing ball. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Game of life, with a twist—and shout. Twitter: @alleywhoops