Tahnia McDaniel is ready to play meaningful basketball again. It's been a year and a half, and the frustration is finally over.
"Oh wow, I am so ready," she said with a smile. "It's only been that long? It seems like forever."
McDaniel, a 6-foot-1-inch sophomore guard/forward on the Weatherford College women’s basketball team, sat out last season as a new mother to her daughter A'Leah, who turned one this past July.
"I really wanted to go out and help, but I couldn't," she said. "I was friends with everybody on that team, and it really hurt not being able to help them."
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During the off-season, coach Bob McKinley cleared out his roster for the most part. McDaniel admits doing a little sweating as she waited to see if she would be a part of the team this season.
"It was kind of iffy, and I was so relieved when I learned I would be back this season," she said. "That makes me feel good that coach has that confidence in me."
McKinley praised McDaniel and said he also wished she could have been there to help his team last season. However, he is now looking forward to what she will bring this season.
"She's really a good player, and she's had a lot happen that could help her mature," he said. "If all that meshes, she will be great for our team."
McDaniel, who played high school basketball at Euless Trinity, said becoming a parent helped her mature fast. She said A'Leah provides daily inspiration for her to steadily show strength on and off the court.
"I know if I don't play well I can't go to a bigger school. I don't want to let her down," she said. "Her future is in my hands."
McDaniel said A'Leah is currently spending most of the time with her father while she plays basketball and balances her schoolwork. Part of that balance, however, does include seeing A'Leah as often as possible.
"We have practice and games, so I do stay busy, but I will always make time for her," McDaniel said. "My mom will bring her to the games. Even though she doesn't know what's going on, it's nice to have to her there."
McDaniel transferred to WC from Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena, Mississippi. She said her short time at MVSU was tough. A'Leah had just been born.
"She was about a month old, and that's hard for a mom to go away," she said. "I got homesick and I missed her incredibly."
So she came back to the area. She had heard of Weatherford College, so she visited and immediately felt at home.
"It's great here, and Bob is such a great coach," she said. "He welcomed me and gave me a second chance. He's more than a coach, he's kind of a father figure."
McKinley said McDaniel has a major upside if she will use her experience to do so.
"That was a tough spot she was in (at Mississippi Valley State)," he said. "But it's something she learned from, and it can end up making a big difference as she goes through life."