This is part one of a four-part series introducing the women’s basketball team.
Starting her final season as a Murray State athlete, senior guard Mariah Robinson has proven she was a go-getter from the very beginning.
As a freshman, she impressed the Murray State program and the Ohio Valley Conference by being named the OVC freshman of the week twice and starting in eight games. In the past three years, Robinson has grown stronger as an athlete and leader, being named the team captain this season. She said her love of basketball started at an early age.
“When was 7, I had cousins who were in their teens that were also my neighbors,” she said. “I was just always outdoors doing something with a ball, and our church across the street put up a basketball goal. I think that’s when it all started for me. I didn’t want to be inside playing with dolls all day. I just wasn’t that type of girl.”
Basketball developed into more than a hobby when she grew older, turning into a stress reliever.
When Robinson was 12, her mother, one of her strongest supporters in basketball, passed away. To this day, she said her mother is a big influence in her athletic career and she thinks about her every time she plays.
“My mom was a really big presence for me growing up with basketball,” she said. “She was my No. 1 fan. After she passed away, I used basketball as a way to keep me focused and a way to escape. I think basketball is a healthy thing to turn to. It has really helped me.”
With the busy lifestyle which comes with being a college athlete, many people find extra support to help motivate them. Robinson said she owes much of her drive to a newfound spirituality. She said she has committed to a strong Christian faith for a year, and she can’t imagine her life without a relationship with God.
“I would owe a lot of my success to my relationship with Christ,” she said. “I came to Christ this past October and it has changed my life. There were times when I would think, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore,’ because it was hard. Life gets hard and a lot of things get thrown at you from different angles.”
She carries her religion with her at all times, and uses it as a way to focus and prepare for games. Robinson said she finds herself praying alone to regroup herself so she can play her best.
“I like to stay to myself a little bit before a game,” she said. “I kind of have a one-on-one with God. It gets me attentive.”
With a new season beginning to unfold, it’s a clean slate to perform and an unpredictable journey to the OVC tournament.
Robinson made a name for herself her junior year as the school leader in 3-point shots and averaging 16 points per game. Currently, Robinson is the second best 3-point shooter in Murray State’s history.
Her success on the court sets the bar high for her to perform even better as a senior, but Robinson said she has strong faith in herself and her team.
“I wouldn’t say there’s too much pressure,” she said. “What happens is going to happen. I don’t have control of the future. I just know that in order for our team to be successful, I have to be a good leader on and off the court. I need to be getting in the gym more, and I know that other teams are going to scout me and play me up close. It’s my duty as captain and as a senior to keep myself in check.”
Robinson has taken her job as captain seriously, making it a point to keep her team together as family. She said she wants to be a role model for new girls on the roster and for teammates who are trying to develop into better athletes and people.
“It’s not easy to have that responsibility,” Robinson said. “I have 15 girls and we all are very diverse as a team. It’s hard, but I enjoy it because I know I can have a major impact on the younger girls especially. I just try to keep them from other temptations of the world. I just want to surpass surface levels in our relationships, and build friendships with my teammates.”
Though it’s a tough job to take on, Robinson said the team looking up to her is her favorite part of being a college athlete. Being a positive role model is her top priority.
Head Coach Rob Cross said he has enjoyed seeing her develop as an athlete, but more importantly as a person. Her selflessness and desire to put others before herself made her perfect for a leadership position.
“Mariah has been a true joy to be around,” he said. “She truly loves people and works to ensure that she uplifts everyone she meets. She epitomizes the characteristics a Murray State student-athlete should represent.”
Her final year will be a bittersweet goodbye for both the program and
the people in it. As a model representation of her team and school, Robinson has impacted both the university and the community. Cross believes her presence has left a lasting impression on her teammates and all of those around her.
“She does a superb job of leading by example,” Cross said. “She has the ability to deal with diverse personalities and bring them together for the good of the team. Everyone knows that with Mariah it is all about the team.”
Coach Cross agrees, if there was ever a model of someone born to lead by example Mariah Robinson would be it.
Carly Besser, Staff Writer