Jaryn Garner's Cavalier basketball career was slowed by an offseason stress fracture that caused her to miss six crucial weeks of preseason training. In the classroom, however, the first-year student has had anything but a slow start, earning a 3.479 GPA in her first semester.
"It was a tough semester," Garner said. "It wasn't easy, but I love talking to my teachers. We have resources like study hall and I can use the team, who have taken a lot of the classes before and have great suggestions about where to go for help and what to do. I just took advantage of the things that were offered because they work. I was blessed enough to come out with a 3.5."
Spanish was one of her favorite classes this year.
"I just think it is a very pretty language," Garner said. "When I was in high school, I lived with kind of a host family because I lived so far away from school, and they spoke Spanish. Since I spoke with people at home, it's kind of street Spanish that I knew. It wasn't exactly by-the-book, so I am not as good with writing and reading, which is why I am still in Spanish class. I can hear it and understand the gist and give you something back to work with, but I am not fluent yet, but I am getting close."
She also enjoyed the challenges of her psychology class.
"Psych was the hardest, but it was also my most interesting," Garner said. "I looked forward to going to psych a lot. It was Psych - Personality so we learned about schizophrenia and other diseases that I had heard about but never really knew what they were."
The learning definitely didn't end in the classroom. She found she had a lot of basketball studying to do as well, especially after having to watch from the sidelines for so long.
"Learning the plays was probably the most difficult thing," Garner said. "I had been here seven weeks, sort of sitting on the bench waiting to get cleared and then I was out there and I realized oh no! We've got like 30-40 plays I need to get my head wrapped around."
Once again, Garner used her resources to tackle the problem.
"I had the team and the coaches there to help me, who were great resources," Garner said. "It was a lot of fun coming back. It was tough sitting out for that long, but it was fun coming back."
Now that she is back, she is starting to get used to playing Division I basketball.
"Everything is faster. Everything is more aggressive. Everyone is putting their whole bodies out there, which I love, but it is definitely something you have to get used to."
When asked what is her favorite part of the game, she rattles off an answer that has to make Coach Boyle smile.
"My favorite part of the game is defense," Garner said. "I just love getting somebody. Protecting our floor. And when we go on the road, making sure the other team feels our presence. We harp on defense a lot here with Coach Cory and everybody. I just love defense. I take it to heart. I don't want you scoring on me. I don't want you scoring on my teammates. Whenever I can, I want to get inside someone's head."
Garner has made the most of her limited playing time this season. When she comes into a game, there is often an increase in the energy on the floor.
"I love being a spark," Garner said. "Right now, myself and the other freshmen and younger kids are blessed with an opportunity because the team needs us because we are low on numbers. Coach B tells us you always have to raise the level, or keep it where it is, when you go on the court. I think I take advantage of being able to raise the level. I want to go out there and bring the energy up. Most likely for me, that is going to be on defense. I need to find my role on offense with that confidence. I want to be able to get the fans going by getting some defense up. Getting in people's faces and stuff like that. I love being that spark."
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A 1985 graduate of UVA, White worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch until July 2009. He was honored six times as the state's Sportswriter of the Year.
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