By Jan Larsen
FOR SUN TIME NEWS MEDIA
JOLIET – Shakyra Robinson is the dynamite that blasted the Joliet Job Corps Lady Jaguars to national finals next week in Atlanta, Ga.
At just over 5-feet tall, this seasoned point guard scored 30 out of 64 points in the Job Corps Region 5 Basketball Tournament’s final game for females last weekend at the Joliet Center. She was named the tournament’s female Most Valuable Player.
That’s no typo. The girl scored 30 points. That’s not even a personal best. People say this after watching her play: “I’ve never seen a girl sink that many baskets.” It’s like there are magnets in the ball and in the basket.
Robinson, 21, has had plenty of practice. She played at the Boys and Girls Club in Joliet. She played on the boys’ team at Edna Keith, a team that won the city tournament back to back when she was in fourth and fifth grade. She played at Washington Junior High and then at Joliet West (graduating 2008) and Joliet Junior College. She also played a lot of street ball with boys, including her three brothers, whom she says she can all beat.
But Robinson’s poor grades after one semester at Joliet Junior College yanked her off financial aid; she was unable to continue without it.
She says she spent the intervening time “on the streets, throwing my life away.”
“I feel like I had a lot of chances,” she adds. “And I feel this is my last chance.” She vows this time will be different. Her dream is to be scouted to play junior college ball, then college ball, and them to play in the WNBA.
Robinson entered Joliet Job Corps on March 14 and started practice the same day. But that’s how basketball is played in Job Corps. The female team that started last fall contains only two players today. New students come in each week; graduates leave each week. The girl’s record, 9 wins and 8 losses, doesn’t reflect the team the Lady Jaguars is today.
Through the years, the Lady Jaguars have done well on the court. This is the third year in a row they will go to the national tournament. Both times, they finished in the top three but didn’t win. This year, their new coach, Nakia Brown, knows they have what it takes to beat everything in their path.
Brown wants it known she loves the entire team. But she admires Robinson’s shooting ability. “She’s coachable. She listens. Yes, she dominates. But she’s a team player and she’s humble.”
Humble is a good word to describe Robinson. On the regional win, she says “It’s a team thing. WE won this championship.” And in truth, she’s just one part of what Brown describes as an “awesome threesome” that includes Deladiana Williams, 20, of Chicago, and Tenema Williams, 19, of Chicago (no relation). “They could be the best three guards the Lady Jaguars have ever seen,” says Brown.
Deladiana and Shakyra might, together, measure 10 feet tall. They are proof good things come in small packages.
Jan Larsen is an outreach coordinator for Joliet Job Corps. You can reach her at Larsen.firstname.lastname@example.org.