Junior basketball player Becca Ziska wants to be the teammate that is always there to lend support or advice, the first one to come off the bench to give her teammates high fives, the most excited when someone else makes a great play and the support system when things go wrong.
Ziska, a guard on Wittenberg’s Women’s Basketball Team, has been playing basketball since she was three years old, and can’t imagine her life without the sport. She fell in love with the game when she was young, and the love has never gone away, but turned into a passion that keeps her playing.
“This may sound cliché, but basketball really does mean everything to me,” Ziska said. “It has been my biggest teacher, my biggest comfort, the thing that gives me purpose, the avenue through which I’ve met the majority of my friends and so much more.”
Ziska loves her team, and has learned from them throughout her time as a Tiger. According to Ziska, playing for Wittenberg has helped her to appreciate diversity, and to grow as a leader.
“Being around people that come from different places than me has opened my eyes to a lot of things,” Ziska said. “There are so many different personalities on the team, and I feel like I’ve taken something from each teammate and molded it into who I am.”
Ziska’s coaches are an important part of her team, and serve as an inspiration to her. The passion she saw in coaches Sarah Jurewicz and Kelly Mahlum is what drew her to Wittenberg. From the very beginning of the recruitment process. Jurewicz was honest about her policy of each athlete earning her playing time. Ziska appreciated this honesty and called it rare.
Ziska said the traditions carried on by Wittenberg’s Women’s Basketball Team are what make the team special, and Jurewicz is a part of that tradition.
“It is pretty cool to play for a coach that also played and was very successful here at Wittenberg under legendary coach Pam Evans-Smith,” Ziska said. “Coach J does a great job of continuing her legacy.”
Ziska is working to leave her own legacy behind. Basketball has taught her that she can push through the limits that she has set for herself, and work every day to improve. The game is more fun when you are winning, she said, but it is growth that she is focused on.
“I have been on both sides of the winning spectrum and I have learned that it is not what I personally define success as” Ziska said. “To me, success is growth. I have taken pride in the fact that each year, I am a better player than I was the year before. Believe that you can always get better so continual improvement is something I strive for and define as success for myself.”