Working for what she wantsBy Matthew Speakman | 02/22/2016 9:49pm
The women's basketball team plays South Carolina Monday February 22 at 6 pm. CW File
“From the moment she stepped out on the court, I could tell that it was what she enjoyed doing,” Shaquera’s mother, Carolyn Wade, said.
Putting up 3’s at the age of six wasn’t going to be enough. Wade knew she was going to have to do more to grab the attention of her teammates. So, she took matters into her own hands.
“Being the only girl on the team, the boys did not want to give her the ball,” her mother said. “So she would take the ball and show them that she could do it.”
Wade’s love for the sport only grew as she bounced from team to team, league to league. Basketball started to become something more than just a game. It became an escape.
“I always would fall back onto basketball,” Wade said. “When I had tough times outside of basketball or outside of school, I would always just relate and come back to basketball.”
Through basketball, she formed relationships that would help her grow as a person and a player. The bond she formed with her former teammate, Ta’Naisha Hill, is especially strong.
Wade and Hill are always seen together. Where one would go, the other would follow. On the court, it’s no different, and they quickly developed a relationship on the court that has been lethal for the teams they played against.
“Me and Ta’Naisha had that unspoken chemistry,” Wade said. “With us being best friends off the court, we were also like best friends and sisters on the court. It was just a good bond. We knew each other and how to feed off of each other.”
The two first began playing together at age 10 and found themselves on the same teams growing up, including Doug Bush’s AAU Alabama Southern Starz.
Wade and Hill continued to be a dynamic duo in middle school and high school. The two were able to gel so well on the court that being best friends came easy to them.
Although Wade has a close relationship with Hill, she wouldn’t be where she is today without her mother.
“My mom, that’s my best friend,” Wade said. “She stayed on me and she was in the gym with me nine times out of 10. She was at every game. Even here [Alabama], she is at every game she can make even though she has to work.”
It was Wade’s mother who had a huge impact on Wade throughout her young adult life. If her mother could balance work, and still make it to her games, then the very least Wade could do was play her best.
“I see my mom work hard, so why shouldn’t I?” she said. “She works hard to see me be successful, so why shouldn’t I?”
When she got into high school, Wade came into her own, forcing people to notice her talent. Playing under head coach Krystle Johnson, a former Alabama player, at Huntsville High School, Wade started to become a leader for her high school team.
In back-to-back years, Wade led the team to the 6 and 7-A state semi-finals. From there, the letters and accolades started to pour in as colleges started calling. She was named Gatorade State Player of the Year, Alabama Writer’s Association Player of the Year and USA Today ALL-USA Player of the Year for Alabama all during her senior season.
Wade, even with all of the accolades, believes that hard work is what got her this far. She said she had to put a tremendous amount of work in to become the player she is now.
“It didn’t just come over night,” she said. “I had to work for it. I had to do stuff behind closed doors that no one knew about. It all matters. You can’t just wake up and know you are going to get an award. You have to work for it.”
Her AAU coach, Bush, helped Wade make her decision when the process started to heat up.
“Her recruitment was really unique,” Bush said. “I have been lucky to coach a lot of elite players who were playing at a high level. Shaquera always wanted to go play at Alabama. So, her recruitment was not like a lot of players that I have worked with. She got an offer from Alabama and shortly after, committed to Alabama.”
Alabama has trouble getting nationally sought-after recruits to come play for the program, so Wade staying in-state was big for coach Kristy Curry.
“To try and keep the best at home is certainly important,” Curry said. “Not only as we continue to improve our talent and our team, but it helps with your fan base. It helps the fan base when you got people wanting to see those in-state kids develop and play.”
Wade is starting to develop a rhythm at Alabama, having started the past three games for a total of four starts, even though she is separated from the people who helped get there. Being apart from her mom and Hill has been tough, but the team has helped her make new friends and overcome that. Curry said Wade’s potential is through the roof.
“Shaquera has the chance to be an all-SEC type impact player in this league,” she said.
Wade has the second strongest 3-point percentage on the team, hitting 11-of-37 shots outside the arc.
Even though she may be humble in her demeanor, her coaches and family believe she can be something special for the program. She knows that her moment is coming, and she is ready to seize said moment.
“I was raised to go get what you want,” Wade said. “To work for what you want.”