From the basketball court to university

BVH girls basketball athlete commits to university


Provided by BVH Barons (@bvhbarons on Twitter)

BVH basketball player and senior Sylena Peterson committed to New Mexico State University (NMSU) and believes college offers her a path to a brighter future.

On Sept. 17, Bonita Vista High (BVH) Varsity girls’ basketball point guard and senior Sylena Peterson committed to attend New Mexico State University (NMSU) as a college athlete.

Since S. Peterson was three years old, basketball has been her passion. Before playing for BVH, she had sustained the sport as a hobby, played on club teams throughout her childhood and competed with Mount Miguel High’s basketball team. She explained how people both on and off the court inspired her to pursue basketball. 

“I would say my dad introduced me to the sport because helike my other brothersloved to play sports. Ever since that, I’ve just loved it. I can’t see myself without basketball anymore.” S. Peterson said. “I [also] looked up to and loved to watch Kyrie Irving. I was like, ‘I want to be like him. I want to get handles like him.’”

Beyond Irving and her father, she had additionally been inspired by her “dream” to be recruited to a four-year university. For S. Peterson, basketball has personally represented the path to a brighter future. 

“[I was motivated by] the fact that I see all these young women who are able to go into the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) and go to a four-year college off a scholarship. And I was like, ‘I really see myself going to a four-year college, a Division 1 (D1) College, and possibly becoming professional, since it is a dream I’ve been having for a really long time,” S. Peterson said. 

Track and Field coach, Integrated Math 1 and Financial Algebra teacher and S. Peterson’s father Ray Peterson described how her basketball skills have made her a very significant presence on the court. 

“She handles the basketball well. Teammates and coaches feel comfortable when she has the ball. The opposing coaches don’t really feel comfortable when she has the ball. When she has the ball in her hand, people [on her team] are at ease,” R. Peterson said.

Furthermore, BVH girls’ basketball Varsity Head Coach Tristan Lamb first met S. Peterson  when she was playing basketball in middle school. Even before coaching her, Lamb had already perceived S. Peterson as an incredibly competent player

“She was playing with an all-boys team and she was a standout player back then; she was running with the boys and standing out amongst [them]. So I knew once I saw her that she was going to be something special,” Lamb said. 

Basketball has been a lifetime passion for Peterson. She hopes to continue to grow in college and avoid becoming complacent in her successes. (Evan Abutin)

Lamb was unsurprised by NMSU scouting S. Peterson, as she had received “six or seven” different scholarship offers beforehand. After staff from NMSU’s basketball team had reached out to her, she became increasingly convinced to commit to the university.

“I was at a tournament and happened to get a text from one of the assistant coaches, and he was really interested in me. We started talking from therereally long talks,” S. Peterson said. “Then from there, I talked to the head coaches and eventually the whole staff. Talking to the whole staff really made my decision easy to go to [New] Mexico State.” 

S. Peterson was drawn to NMSU due to its status as a D1 college. For institutions in this category, the recruitment process and competition tend to be rigorous.

“The Division 1 level is the best of the best, highest of the high. They’re looking for kids that understand the game. They want to see kids that can play all day without getting tired and play hard all the time,” Lamb said.

As pivotal of a role basketball has had in her life, S. Peterson explains how she also committed to NMSU to open a new chapter in her life as she pursues self-discovery. 

“I look forward to not only growing as a player but as a young adulta young woman into the real world. And I know the coaching staff has great things to offer me [beyond] a basketball standpoint,” S. Peterson said.  

I look forward to not only growing as a player but as a young adult—a young woman into the real world. And I know the coaching staff has great things to offer me [beyond] a basketball standpoint.”

— S. Peterson

Despite the limitations that the current pandemic has caused, R. Peterson details how he felt a sense of reassurance and happiness when S. Peterson finally committed to attend NMSU.

“I was right there with her when she officially committed and it was more of a relief. COVID-19 narrowed down some of her choices [and there were] fewer offers on the table [but] we are fortunate that she had a school that truly and consistently wanted her,” R. Peterson said. 

As her father, R. Peterson played an important role in guiding S. Peterson throughout her basketball career. He consistently emphasized the importance of taking every win or every loss as a learning experience, as well as an opportunity to remain motivated and refrain from being self-satisfied. 

“The lessons learned are every moment, every game and every year. There are times where she might accept local success, but [I ask S. Peterson]: ‘Do you become complacent? If everyone’s telling you [that] you’re great and you’re player of the year of San Diego County, are we going to let that go to our head or are we going to continue to work to get better?’” R. Peterson said. “Sylena is one of the best point guards in our city. With that being said, [I remind her to] not take her success based on her competition and become comfortable.”

S. Peterson’s basketball journey from the BVH court to NMSU has taken her through both ups and downs. She explains that she’s learned many crucial skills from playing basketball such as having a motivated mindset, being dedicated and becoming goal oriented. In addition, she has been able to apply lessons from basketball to her personal life, and she hopes to continue this process of growth in college. 

“[Basketball has] really shaped my leadership and my responsibility, from playing a role on the team to playing a role at home with my family. It really created who I am,” S. Peterson said. “[NMSU’s coaching staff] can offer me realizations of the world, and I believe that college was a great choice for me.”