The high pitched sound of sneakers colliding with hardwood echoed off the gym walls, leaving the heavy breathing of exhausted athletes barely audible. She steps in front of the defender, hands outstretched, she’s open. Sweat dripped down the curve of her cheek, ignoring the roar of the crowd, she grips the seam of the basketball within her tired hands, she’s competing.
Junior center Sara Dyslin is a San Jose, California native and has proved to be a dynamic force not only on the basketball court, but the volleyball court as well. Directly after finishing her volleyball season being ranked 23rd and 26th in the nation for hitting and blocks per set, Dyslin began her third basketball season with the Lady Warriors.
While it seems like the physical shape needed to play volleyball would translate over into basketball, both sports work different muscles and the adjustment is challenging.
“Juggling basketball and volleyball is difficult sometimes,” Dyslin said. “Going between the two, it’s different in how physically demanding each of them are. In volleyball I’ll be really tired in one way, and I’ll switch over and not be very fluid in my basketball movements, but I’ll get sore in a completely different way. You learn how to study on the buses and you adjust to traveling on the road and doing school along with it.”
Being the daughter of two college basketball players, Dyslin began playing the game at a young age.
“[My parents] were really excited when I wanted to play,” Dyslin said. “I played all the way through middle school and high school. I think it was around high school that I began to love it. That is when I started to really develop skills and get better.”
Dyslin reached her 1,000 point milestone against Oglethorpe University. She averages 18.3 points and 12.5 rebounds a game. She’s also been named the Warrior of the Week four times this season, three times of basketball and once for volleyball. While Dyslin is a talented athlete, she hasn’t let it interfere with her ambition to improve.
“I always need to work on things,” Dyslin said. “I think every year a big thing is trying to expand my game a little more. I always try and do different or better post moves. I always need to get better at free throws because those are free points. I think for me it’s really just trying to work on playing smart and knowing where people are on the floor. There’s always room for improvement.”
Since the Lady Warriors have transitioned from a large team to a small force with only nine players, Dyslin has had to alter her role. Support and hard work from her teammates has played a part of her success.
“It’s really different this year, with a much smaller team,” Dyslin said. “It’s been interesting figuring out my role compared to the last few years. But only having nine players, we all rely on each other so much. Everyone has their own specific role. We’re all really important. I think I just have a steady presence throughout the game. I’m always there if you need to pass me the ball or even if it’s just cheering on the bench. I try to be kind of a consistent contributor in whatever way that would be.”
Being an upperclassmen, not only has the size of the team been an adjustment, Dyslin has had to take on a leadership role.
“I do consider myself a leader,” Dyslin said. “In the past I’ve been a leader just physically. I’m always going to be working my hardest. I’m always going to be working my butt off in the game in order to get moves and get points. I haven’t always been a vocal leader. I haven’t really done that part of it as well as other people, and it’s been interesting the past year, being an upperclassmen for both volleyball and basketball trying to find that vocal part of it.”
While Dyslin is a dedicated athlete, she succeeds in the classroom as well. She was on the Academic All-American team for volleyball and is double majoring in Neuroscience and French.
“I want to go to grad school to get my masters in behavioral neuroscience,” Dyslin said. “I’m not exactly sure what direction that is going to take me, but I plan on applying for research this summer with a couple of different organizations. I’d love to do something with language in the brain or systems neuroscience.”
Although two sports is demanding of her time, Dyslin enjoys the sport and the team she competes with.
“I think my favorite part of basketball is competing and being physical, and finding a way to get better all the time. When you’re surrounded by a team that is as close as we are, in that supportive environment, it’s really cool to push ourselves and try and be the best that we can be.”
Photo by Leah Headley.