By MIKE MOGUIN
Union Boundary Sports Writer
One element in Union’s success on the girls’ hardwood is Kaylen Nelson.
The 5’11” senior is listed on the roster as a forward, but plays other roles as well.
Her driving, she said, is her strongest attribute as a player.
“The way I can get to the basket, my strength, even though I don’t consider myself a post player, I like to do a lot of post moves,” Nelson said. “I like to think of myself as versatile, inside and out, so I’d definitely say driving to the basket.”
Next year, she will be heading east to play at Old Dominion.
She chose the Norfolk, Va. based school after developing a good relationship with the head coach and coaching staff.
“I just thought it was the best deal for me,” Nelson said. “I love their style of play. The head coach (DeLisha Milton-Jones) is great and she has also done a lot of stuff in her career that I want to do for sure, like playing overseas and in the WNBA.”
Nelson also knows about Old Dominion’s successful history as a women’s program. It won a national championship in 1985 and was runner-up in 1997.
“They are a great team, a great basketball program all the way around and looking at their past just pushed me to go there as well,” she said.
Nelson chose Old Dominion over UTEP and Northwestern (La.) State.
She also looks forward to the cultural experience.
“I think it’ll be a good change and good opportunity for me, even though I’ll be living far away.”
Nelson averaged 12.8 points per game last season as a junior. She and her teammates were able to reach the state tournament for the second straight year. Unfortunately, they were not able to play it as the COVID-19 pandemic led to cancellation of the tournament.
“It was honestly crazy,” Nelson said. “It was kind of heartbreaking. Last year was definitely our year. I definitely believe it was a lot of competition, but it was definitely our year to win it all. We practiced our butts off and came in at morning practice and stayed after practice and we finally were ready to be that team and it got called off right before we got off the bus.”
With school and practices back in session, the Union girls take preventive measures against the coronavirus.
“We obviously practice with our masks on unless we are distancing away from each other six feet or more apart,” Nelson said. “Conditioning-wise, we stay away, but we mostly get on each other about keeping our masks on. From the beginning to right now, it’s been working.”
Ultimately, the Union girls intend to accomplish what they couldn’t last year as they were denied by COVID-19.
“I definitely think we have a good enough team to get where we were last year and even go farther if corona (coronavirus) doesn’t take that opportunity from us,” Nelson said.