One of Florida A&M’s top female basketball players is trying to take her game to the international stage. Senior guard/forward Antonia Bennett is a finalist for the USA Women’s Basketball Pan American Games Team.
All that is left for Bennett is a two-week training camp in Houston. After the training camp, Bennett and the team will fly to Guadalajara, Mexico, where the tournament will be held from Oct. 21-25. Team USA is grouped with Brazil, Dominican Republic and Uruguay.
Head coach LeDawn Gibson said she considers it her responsibility to motivate Bennett to be ready for the games.
“She is getting in great shape,” Gibson said. “We ask her to do extra because the coaching staff is limited. Things as little as changing eating habits and individual workouts could help.”
Gibson said Bennett deserves the opportunity and works hard to improve those around her.
“She shows true leadership,” Gibson said. “To see her from where she started is a highlight in itself. She used to be shy, but now she’s very outgoing.”
Bennett said she is motivated by the support from friends, family and classmates. The recent death of teammate Shannon Washington, who was killed during a domestic dispute, has given her more drive to succeed.
“She always worked hard and tried her best in everything she did,” Bennett said of Washington. “Both of us were on another level as far as our plans this season, so now that she’s gone, I feel that I owe it to her to make the best out of this opportunity because she has influenced me a lot.”
The Lady Rattlers will have their first exhibition game weeks after Bennett returns. The team may use Bennett’s honor as a recruitment tool for upcoming seasons.
Since her freshmen year, Bennett has improved her skills. She said it shows on and off the court.
“As I look back on each year, I gained more knowledge about the game and life that has helped me to become the person I am today,” Bennett said. “I have a different attitude, focus and outlook on a lot of things.”
Even though Bennett is the only one from her team who will play in the games in October, the team continues to support her. Junior Kenturah Martin said the team will push Bennett and motivate her more.
“We know she is going to do great things and represent us lady rattlers well,” Martin said. “Right now, we are her cheerleaders cheering her on.”