The Ultimate Teammate

By Vanessa Villalvazo, Sports Editor

From wanting to first be a dancer to now following in the footsteps of her father, Isaac Austin who was a former National Basketball Association player. Vanessa Austin is a native from Salt Lake City, Utah who plays as the center for CSU Bakersfield women’s basketball team. She started playing basketball in fourth grade.

“I played on a junior jazz team and my mom was like, ‘If you do really well in this game we could go out and get ice cream,’ because she was trying to motivate me to play. So I went out there and scored 12 points. I had all the points,” Austin added. “That’s when I really started to think I could get good at this, this is something that I could invest my time in.”
Austin chose to come play for CSUB.

“This place feels like home to me because the coach Greg, he played basketball with my dad, so him knowing my dad for so long, he knew me before I was even born. So just that home feeling is why I came here and the academics,” Austin said.

Head coach Greg McCall and Austin’s dad, Isaac, played together in junior college and have been friends ever since.

“She is the ultimate teammate. She cares a lot about her team and is the one everybody loves to be around,” McCall said.

Austin is a sophomore and was named to the Western Athletics Conference All-Newcomer Team when she was a freshman. She has a career high of 21 points on Nov. 28, 2018, and career high of 12 rebounds on Feb. 27, 2019, both in games against New Mexico State University.

Nandi Jorden also plays for the CSUB women’s basketball team and is Austin’s roommate.

“She’s a very good person, very funny, bright, smart, and dedicated to school and to basketball and this team. On and off the court she works hard,” Jorden said. “I and Vanessa love cooking, like at least twice a week we have team functions at our house and we’ll just cook for our teammates.”

Her teammate Malayasia McHenry also plays for the CSUB women’s basketball team as a forward and bonded with Vanessa by laughing at each other from across campus.

“She pushes me. If I am down on myself she always tells me, ‘We need you, you are a big part of this team, we need you to pick it up,’ ” McHenry said.

Austin says she wants to live up to her father’s legacy and often looks at her father’s old footage. However, she would like to become a sports medicine trainer.

“Right now I am a kinesiology major with a minor in psychology, so I plan on doing something in the medical field. I was thinking about becoming an athletic trainer because I’ve been taking sports medicine classes since I was a sophomore in high school and I joined an athletic training program and that’s what started my love for sports medicine,” Austin said.

She looks up to her cousin, Isaiah Austin, who played basketball at Baylor University and now plays in China. She does not communicate with him that often because he is overseas, but does speak to his father who has a basketball program in Utah.

Her inspiration is “The King” Lebron James who currently plays for the Los Angeles Lakers.

“Lebron James is everything I want to be in a player. He makes his team better and that’s just something I try to do,” Austin added. “I am not only trying to make myself better, I am trying to make my teammates better. I am here to help my teammates accomplish this goal because we’re are all in this together.”

As a sophomore, Austin has already become a vital person to the team and will continue to lead the team in the future.