Janekia Mason, of Covington, started playing basketball as a child to escape the stresses of school and home life. Little did she know that afternoon pastime would become a college scholarship and, potentially, a lifelong professional career.
“The earliest that I remember (playing basketball) is middle school. I started playing outside with my cousins, and then I started playing school basketball in the seventh grade,” she said. “It was a way to escape some things I had going on then. I saw my cousins playing all the time, so I played with them and ended up having fun.”
After playing basketball through high school, Mason visited the University of Tennessee at Martin as a high school senior. While she had planned to play for the Skyhawks as a walk-on in the fall, head coach Kevin McMillan had another idea.
“He got me an offer from Mineral Area (Community College) in Park Hills, Mo., so I could get some college experience,” Mason said. After playing two years with Mineral Area, McMillan brought her back to the Skyhawk court as a transfer student. Now a junior, Mason has completed her first full year at UT Martin and says the intensity on the court has been something to get used to.
“It’s totally different; the speed is outrageous,” she said. “It’s really professional, and you have to catch on quick. You have to be self-motivated and be willing to push yourself to go that extra mile, and I think it will be worth it in the end.”
Mason plans to graduate from UT Martin with a degree in criminal justice next spring, and she is considering the idea of taking her basketball career to the next level. She has investigated the process of playing professional basketball overseas and hopes to see what may come of that venture. If successful, Mason would be one of only a few Skyhawk athletes to make the leap across the pond.
PHOTO ID: Janekia Mason, a junior at the University of Tennessee at Martin, looks for a pass March 2 while the UT Martin Skyhawks face off against the Austin Peay State University Governors during Ohio Valley Conference tournament play. The Skyhawks ultimately defeated the Governors 59-43.
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