Nelson star knew basketball was in future at young age

Posted Monday, Jun. 10, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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It was obvious Tralyn Woodard was destined to be a basketball player from a very young age.

Around four or five years old, Woodard was signed up to be a cheerleader and practice tumbling during her brother’s basketball games. However, when Woodard’s mother Toya would look over to check on her daughter, she was away from the cheer group, playing with a basketball.

From that point on, Woodard’s days as a cheerleader were over and a career in basketball that might end up at one of the top collegiate programs began.

“She has not looked back,” Toya said. “It was actually a talent that she knew she had a drive for and she’s been developing ever since.”

Woodard began in a “tiny tots” league, her mother said, but her natural abilities were far superior to those her same age level. Woodard was moved around constantly from team to team to find an age and skill level that fit her natural talent.

“The other players weren’t playing, they were watching her,” Toya said. “She played with older girls but she was so advanced with them, so they asked us to move to another team and it was a team full of boys.”

Fast forward to last season, Woodard’s junior year at Byron Nelson, and nothing has changed. Woodard pulled in multiple district awards in a season where she led the team in scoring and assists, averaging 13 points per game and 4 helpers per game. It’s no wonder Woodard said her favorite play is driving to the hole where she can either score the layup or dish to a teammate.

Now, during the summer leading into her senior year, Woodard is completely engrossed in basketball, playing in tournaments across the country with her select team, Elevation Elite, and participating in college camps at campuses across the Northeast.

An Ohio native, Woodard said she hopes to play for a college near her home state, listing Kentucky, Tennessee and UConn as possible favorites. She is already hearing interest from Arizona State, Dartmouth and Delaware.

Showcasing her talents at schools like Kentucky, Duke and Baylor is nerve-wracking for any teenage athlete, but Woodard says the key is to just play the game that has come so natural all these years.

“You just have to stay focused and forget that they’re there and get on the floor and play,” she said.

At this point in her career, some of that natural talent has given way to skill developed by hard work and devotion. Woodard’s mother says while most of her daughter’s friends are watching TV or hanging out, the basketball star focuses in on game film and dissects future opponents’ weaknesses while critiquing her own game.

Toya said for her daughter and their family, the name of a college program means a lot less than how Woodard fits into the school.

“We just need that close-to-perfect fit where the coach will let her be a point guard and welcome her and teach her as well, and she can just be a blessing to someone wherever she goes,” Toya said.

However, as the Nelson star travels the country showcasing her talents, Toya hopes she is an example to those around her, whether she picks up an offer or not.

“I hope she meets some great people and I hope that she makes an impact,” she said. “If they recruit her or not, I hope she makes a positive impact of what it’s like to be passionate about something.”

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