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The Will to Succeed
By Lisa R. Foeman

Having a baby in the 10th grade doesn’t exactly put one in the best position to succeed in life. But if you are humble, have the support of your family, and count your blessings as the Washington Mystics’ forward Shalonda Enis has, success isn’t so elusive after all.

Shalonda Enis
Courtesy Washington Mystics

Shalonda Enis


Not many people at her high school knew of her pregnancy; and the fact that she played basketball until her eighth month is unbelievable. The reserved, soft-spoken Enis recounted, “there were people who said I wouldn’t make it [in life]. That just put that drive in me to do well that next year.” Do well she did. Her team won the Texas state championship during her junior and senior years, losing only one game in that span. Her spectacular high school performances earned her a basketball scholarship to Alabama where she must complete a year’s worth of credits to graduate.

After Alabama, Enis played for the defunct American Basketball League’s Seattle Reign where she was both an All-Star and Rookie of the Year during the 1997-1998 campaign. Enis, who was “in love with the ABL” worried about fitting into the WNBA. Since the transition to the WNBA, Enis’ scoring and rebounding have suffered, shaking her confidence. In two seasons with the Reign, Enis averaged 16.8 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. By contrast, she averaged 7.4 points and 5.4 rebounds this year with the Mystics who went 12-20 in 1999, a significant improvement over their 3-27 showing in 1998.

"There were people who said I wouldn’t make it [in life]. That just put that drive in me to do well that next year."

At 24, Enis is maturer than her contemporaries. When asked if she was disappointed by her second round selection by the Mystics, she responded, “I feel blessed that I even made it at all.” Recognizing that she hasn’t “had the greatest year as far as shooting,” Enis felt that she was “letting [her] team down.” So, in an effort to “take the attention off what’s happening to me,” she focused on “what I can do for my team,” by doing little things “like rebounding, diving after balls, and being a hustle player.”

This fall, Enis will play overseas in hopes of regaining her lost confidence. At first, it seemed puzzling that she wouldn’t return to Texas to be with her 8-year old son, Chase, who is living with her mother and whom she has scarcely seen since moving to Washington, D.C. But she describes the trip overseas as a chance “to learn about myself and to get to know me for a while. To help me as a person, as a mother, and as a player.”

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In essence, Enis’ sacrifice to play overseas allows her the necessary time to hone her craft, which translates into a steady income and a more confident mother. Enis vowed, “this will be the last year I’ll be away from my son. I’ve already said it, I can’t do it anymore.” Mother and son will be reunited and things can return to normal as they were in Seattle when Chase lived with mom. M

October 1999



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