MEDFORD, Ore. – Emily Alvarez is listed at 5’3″, not typically the height of a star basketball player, so the St. Mary’s junior relies on more than physical stature to position herself above her opponents.
“I’ve worked hard for so long,” said Alvarez. “I just go in the gym especially on the weekends. I go to gyms, I shoot around, practice my dribbling.”
Emily’s success is about more than just supreme work ethic, she also feeds off the crowd.
“Especially my mom,” said Alvarez. “She’s always screaming for me on the sidelines, yelling, cheering me on, going, ‘Attack. Get the defense.’”
“I have time for everybody, said Emily’s mom, Sandra. “I have so much to do at home, but important for me is my kids.”
Sandra and her husband Jesus are there to support all of their kids, including Rose, who plays with Emily in soccer, track and basketball, as well as Glenn, who’s on the football and basketball teams.
“It’s always fun seeing my mom screaming, ‘Aaaah, let’s go.’ It makes me want to make her proud,” said Glenn.
“Every game they’re always there,” said Rose. “They’re always with their camera, video camera, video taping, yelling, saying, ‘Oh, we can get her to play defense, hard defense.’”
The family’s always there for each other in the stands. On the court, Emily has her younger sister.
“It’s such an awesome feeling because she knows where I am on the court,” said Emily. “I know where she is on the court and we just have this huge trust bond.”
“We have a really great connection together,” said Rose. “Some sisters argue and they never want to be together, but with us it’s different. We support each other.”
All that support fuels Emily.
“They encourage me to not be afraid, no matter the height, and so I guess it made me into a great player and to have confidence,” said Emily.
With the ball in her hand, Emily’s confidence is on full display.
“If I don’t shoot the ball, she’ll tell me, ‘Shoot the ball. Don’t be scared,’” said Emily.
And she shoots, and shoots, and shoots, and with each shot, thecrowd cheers, and the video camera keeps rolling.