Sheffield keeps cool in the clutch

Junior phenom poised to lead the Hawks into the playoffs

By Terina Papatu, Hawkeye Staff

So far the 2021-22 basketball season for the Mountlake Terrace women’s basketball team has been amazing, to put it simply. Thankfully, junior forward Mya Sheffield is part of the team that’s been treating this season like a walk in the park.

To start off, Sheffield has been part of a very determined team.

“They [the basketball team] have great teamwork and have amazing sportsmanship,” sophomore forward for the C-Team, Ema Catalan, said. 

Not only that, Sheffield is also a leader herself. “She is always there and ready when coaches need someone’s help to demonstrate plays or how a move is supposed to be done,” Catalan said. 

Since she was five or six years old, Sheffield’s personality has been heavily impacted by basketball. This has turned her into the leader she is today. “It definitely showed me how to become a leader. There’s a lot of leading in basketball that you have to do sometimes,” Sheffield said. 

This led Sheffield to being an amazing player and leader despite having a rough year. The previous year took quite a toll on Sheffield’s basketball career. Luckily, even though she was shocked with the sudden change, COVID and quarantine has made her love for basketball stronger than before. 

“I think it was an eye-opener, and made me just appreciate playing the sport more and getting the chance, because I know how it feels to not be with the crowd,” she said. 

Not only has she begun to appreciate the opportunity to play more, she’s also pushed herself to improve. 

“I definitely think I’ve changed as a player from freshman year to now. Just because of quarantine, I trained a lot, so I think it had a good impact on me,” she said. 

A recent game against Meadowdale was very close, the score being 41-42 until the last six seconds, when Sheffield scored a three-pointer to win the game. Though the crowd came flooding to the varsity team’s side, chanting about how the team had won, Sheffield had barely realized that they were still there. 

“When I usually play basketball, I totally forget the crowd’s there. I was not expecting that, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, hi guys!’ I was more happy about the fact that we won,” she said. In the last few moments of a close game, it’s common for athletes to think about every possible outcome of their game plan. When Sheffield realized she was open though, she had fellow junior forward, Elise Colvin, pass to her. 

“I just shot it, I don’t remember thinking anything, I just threw it up there,” Sheffield said. 

A few days after the game, Sheffield and her coach, Nick Starks, were contacted for an interview by a news station in Everett. It made Sheffield a bit nervous. 

“My blood was already so high, and they were like, ‘Come here Mya! Come here Nick!’ and I was like, oh my gosh I can’t focus on this right now. I was a little scared, because I’ve never gotten interviewed like that before,” she said.

Despite not being a senior yet, it’s never too early to think about college and the future in general. It’s common for athletes to start playing their sport of choice when they’re very young.

Even though college and career paths are  tough to think about, Sheffield spends lots of time thinking about her future. 

They create an environment where there is no judgment, where you can feel safe to make mistakes and they will be there to help you correct them.”

— Emma Catalan

“I don’t really want to play in college, but if I get the opportunity it might be something I think about. It’s 50/50 right now. I  kind of want to, but I don’t. It’s been my dream but also I’m not sure,” she said. 

While playing a school sport, especially on varsity, teammates may look to you for help.

“They create an environment where there is no judgment, where you can feel safe to make mistakes and they will be there to help you correct them,” Catalan said. 

Sheffield also explained the varsity team’s point of view. 

“You can just tell a lot of the times, they [JV or C-team players] kind of repeat what we [varsity players] do. I definitely think they look up to us,” she said. 

With some groups of people, the feeling of others being ahead of you might feel daunting. Catalan refuted this idea, however.

“All three basketball teams get along. No one brings anyone down for being on a lower team than them, and we’re all always there to help each other when we need help,” she said.

One of the things that hasn’t changed though, is the cheering and support that goes on during the games. Mya missed a lot when it comes to basketball, but cheering is one of the things that she’s missed the most. 

“One of my favorite aspects of basketball is probably the cheering. I love playing the sport, but the cheering gives us so much hype and it gives us confidence.” 

Her reason for playing started off as something small, just something her mom signed her up for to see if she liked it. 

“I started basketball when I was like five or six years old. My mom was putting me in a bunch of sports. She really wanted me to be the sports type of girl,” Sheffield said. “She first put me in soccer, soccer was my first sport. I just really liked basketball, I liked the friends I had on the team. Some of the friends I have on varsity are some of my friends from that year.”

The women’s varsity team has been working extremely hard, currently being 10-5 and on their way to districts. Because of this, the excitement of the team has gone up. 

“We’re probably a little more hyped, like our mindsets are more, ‘We’re gonna go to district! We’re gonna go to state!’” Sheffield said. 

The team has been close to state before, in Mya’s freshman year. Being able to experience the opportunity in her junior or senior year would be an amazing way to end her high school basketball career.