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Erica Mashia Spencer
[1995]

School: Jefferson

Sport Played: Basketball

High School Honors: 4-year letter winner; starter as frosh on 1992 PIL championship team; All-PIL as a freshman, junior & senior; PIL scoring leader as junior, PIL championship and Player of the Year as a senior; HM All-State as freshman, 3rd team as junior and 1st team as senior; State Player of the Year and State Tournament All-Star, as senior.

Post High School Career: University of Southern California, first team All-Pac 10 (Freshman team), Varsity starter as a senior. Graduated from USC with a BA degree in sociology. Sat out 3 seasons due to season ending hip and knee injuries. Coached Frosh and JV basketball at Jefferson in 2004-09, currently coaching the varsity girls basketball team at Madison and in 2013 was named basketball Coach of the Year for Madison girls.

Commentary:

I was born with Jefferson ties, my parents are alumni and I lived near the school, so I would always attend games and school events. I had the chance to see its rich tradition and pride that many carried. As an 8th grader, I had the option of choosing which high school I would attend, I had narrowed it down to three schools, a private school known for its academics and athletics, and two public schools, one of them being Jeff. I chose Jefferson, though some doubted my decision, I believed that I would be successful anywhere and I was determined to prove that.

As I reflect on my high school life I appreciate how playing basketball has done so much for me. Basketball has given me a free college education, world travel experience, and many long lasting relationships. It has also taught me perseverance, discipline, mental toughness, and leadership. I became aware of these qualities during my sophomore year when I was sidelined with a torn ACL in my left knee early in the season. Many believed that I wouldn't be the player I once was or reach my playing potential. I was determined to prove them wrong and come back stronger than ever.

I owe my basketball success to my family. Without their endless love, encouragement, and guidance; I wouldn't have achieved so much. They were my very own cheering section, my motivation, and at times my inspiration. My parents are my biggest supporters and through their sacrifices they have allowed me to be the best basketball player I could be. My dad, my first coach, spent countless hours with me in the gym and also driving me across the state to various practices and workouts. He taught me the importance of working hard and never giving up. My mom provided everything I needed, from equipment to the small things that every young girl needs. She also taught me integrity and strength.

It has been an honor to be a part of the Jefferson family, girls' basketball program and the PIL. Today I am still in the PIL working as a Career Coordinator and Head Girls Varsity Basketball coach at Madison. Daily I use the lessons I learned in high school to teach my players about basketball and life.

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