A basketball career filled with several twists and turns hasn’t stopped Foss alum Ariassa Wilson from chasing her dreams. Wilson – who just completed her junior year as an all-league selection at Simpson University in Redding, Calif. – is preparing to take her game overseas this summer after being selected as a member of the USA Athletes International, Inc. team that will travel abroad for competition.
“It’s a dream come true, it’s always been one of my dreams since middle school to play basketball overseas,” said Wilson, who was a first-team all-league selection for Foss in her senior season in 2008.
Wilson credits a two-year stint at Highline Community College, where she earned more all-league honors and played on the all-star team, as preparing her the most for her future athletic and academic goals.
“That was when my life changed the most. I was pushed the most, had the best coaches that pushed me not only on the basketball court but off it,” Wilson said. “My whole life just went up a notch from there.”
Motivated by a strong faith in God, Wilson was led to Simpson University to play for the Red Hawks and head coach Derrick Pringle, Jr. in 2010.
“She’s the first one in the gym and first one out,” said Pringle of Wilson’s mindset. “Her tough mindset she has is that ‘I want to the best player I can be, period.’”
“Simpson had a really good youth ministry program,” Wilson said. “I loved the campus…I really vibed with (Pringle), and could really see myself living here and creating a future for myself.”
But nothing could have prepared Wilson for the hardships that happened in the past year. After being injured for most of her first year with the Red Hawks, Wilson’s grandmother suffered a major heart attack in October. Another tragedy struck just as quickly in late February, when her little sister was killed in a drive-by shooting.
“That’s probably the toughest challenge I’ve had to face,” Wilson said. “You’ll never be the same after you lose somebody so close to you. My little sister was one of my biggest supporters.”
Despite the tragedies, Wilson relied on her faith to carry her through. As a reserve at Simpson this year, she averaged 9.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game while also being named to the Dean’s list.
“It’s given me more motivation to show that I won’t be stopped,” said Wilson of the recent hardships. “I’ll just push that much more so God can get the glory.
"Anybody can use struggles and pain as reasons not to succeed, but I'm using mine as motivation to succeed."
“Through all that stuff she was still persevering to do well in the classroom and on the court,” Pringle said. “Most people, myself included, would be like, ‘I’m done with it.’”
Wilson now looks forward to her upcoming journey, touring Europe with the USA Athletes International squad from May 27 to June 5. Well on her way to graduating in the Spring of 2013, Wilson also hopes to get her own non-profit, True Christian Student Athlete, up and running shortly after.
“Just the fact I’ve had to go through everything I’ve been through and still am able to achieve what I have, I give God the glory,” Wilson said.
And while the recent tragedy still stings, Wilson believes she still has a big fan watching on.
“I know my little sister’s looking down on me…and I’m still making her proud.”