Feb. 28, 2013
A lot of people claim that they love to play basketball. When speaking with senior point guard China Crosby, it is very easy to believe that she LOVES to play basketball.
"I have been playing this sport since I was three and I truly love the sport," Crosby said. "It brings me happiness. Even after the injuries... Anyone who was just claiming to love the sport would have just quit on the sport after everything I have been through. But no. It got me hungry to play my last season the way I want to play it."
Crosby has suffered two separate season-ending ACL injuries, the second coming during December of her junior year, but she brushes off questions about knees.
"My knees are the least of my worries at this point in the season," Crosby said. "Right now, as a point guard, and every point guard in the country can attest to this, I'm worried about my turnover to assist ratio. I'm doing a fairly good job as far as finding my teammates and averaging about five assists a game, so the main thing that I focus on each game is trying to eliminate my turnovers."
Overcoming a pair of knee injuries and the ensuing rehab has been par for the course for the former McDonald's High School All-American. Listed as 5-6 on the roster, she has spent her entire career overcoming obstacles through hard work and another huge intangible.
"My heart is what always got me by," Crosby said. "My mom was always telling me that being this small, I'm not going to get taller. She and I knew that I was capable of playing Division I basketball. She always told me `Make sure your handle is on point.' That's the New York slang. What she meant by that is make sure your handle is good enough so that if a big girl or anybody tries to come at you in any kind of trap, you can get out of it."
Crosby, under the watchful eye of her mother, Monica Crosby, began focusing on her dribbling.
"Me and my mom would wake up in the morning at six o'clock," Crosby said. "I would just dribble between my legs, up and down the block, and backwards, and if I messed up, I would have to start all over. As I grew up, my game started evolving around me being able to penetrate and dish off to the players I was playing with. When I was in high school, RISE Magazine wrote an article about me titled `Small in Stature. Big in Heart.' That defines me."
Crosby was attracted to basketball at a young age. Even as a toddler, it was the basketball that she always migrated to. As a grade schooler, she would play street ball with the "fellas on the block" who had fashioned a hoop by cutting the bottom out of a crate and attaching it to a gate with some scrap wire. Now, she eyes a future of playing professionally, possibly overseas, after she graduates in May.
Graduation will be a huge deal for the Crosby family. China will be the first in her family to graduate with a bachelor's degree from a university, a fact that should make her mother quite proud.
"I think she is more excited about senior day on March 3 than graduation day," Crosby laughed. "I am going to have 20-plus people in the stands. I don't know how many can walk on the floor with me, but if they can all walk on the floor with me, they are all going to walk on the floor with me."
Despite her love of the game, her eagle-eyed focus on finishing off the ACC season and perhaps a brief glimpse towards the post-season, Crosby is still able to plan ahead for life after retiring from basketball.
"Ever since I was younger, I wanted to do something where I help others," Crosby said. "At first, I wanted to be a fire fighter. Secondly I wanted to be a social worker. But I felt I would get too attached to some of the cases because of how emotionally attached I am to helping people. In middle school, I started thinking about police work."
Her focus on becoming one to "Protect and to Serve" was cemented by her association with an officer in her neighborhood named Marty who she met while taking a tour of the station.
"I don't know exactly what Marty's last name was, but he was real cool to everyone on our block, me in particular," Crosby remembered. "He transferred to a different station. We found out he passed away during 9-11."
She was saddened when she learned of his tragic death, but she also never stopped being inspired by her memories of him.
"The way that he was so enthusiastic and so helpful to people, I knew I could do the same thing," Crosby said. "When I become a cop, I really want to uplift people and kids around my neighborhood, just like he did."
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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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