BY ROWAN SCHABERG | TABLA Camper-Intern
Makana Stone is a senior at Whitman College and has joined us at Team Awesome Basketball Leadership Academy (TABLA) as a Junior Counselor (JC) for all 3 years! This season at Whitman, she was the Conference Player of the Year and All-Region First Team. Before the end of the season was cancelled due to the pandemic, Whitman made it to the NCAA D-III Sweet 16. Makana is majoring in biology and plans to get her master’s degree in the UK after graduation!
Did you always know that you wanted to play basketball in college? What was the recruiting process like for you and why did you choose Whitman?
I was never the kid who knew she wanted to play basketball. I knew I wanted to keep playing sports, but it wasn’t until my sophomore year of high school that I really started thinking that I could play college basketball. The recruiting process was so interesting. Somehow there was a profile of me that said I was a year younger than I actually was (I don’t know where that profile came from lol). So I wasn’t getting a lot of phone calls or emails. Then when I figured out what was going on and got it fixed, I started getting some calls and emails. Most were D3 and a couple were D1. I was never really interested in D1, but a possible full ride was very enticing. But at the time, I really wanted to go to a school that balanced academics and athletics so I chose to focus on D3 schools. If it wasn’t for my family’s support, I wouldn’t have been able to pursue the path that I felt was right for me. I ended up choosing Whitman because they were the perfect balance between athletic and academic rigor.
What kind of leader would you describe yourself as? How had that changed throughout your basketball career?
I have definitely evolved as a leader throughout my career. I used to lead strictly by example. It was my goal every practice and every game to bring all the hustle all the time (of course, that’s not always possible, sometimes we have off days. But, that’s the way I used to lead). I’ve since stepped up into a more vocal position. I’m often the hype man who brings a lot of energy and I always try to hype up my teammates – both on and off the court. I’ve also become the type of leader who has to have tough conversations. It’s not always fun to be called out or to call a teammate out, but at the end of the day these conversations have to because you care about the success of the team and your teammate.
What was your biggest adjustment, basketball or non-basketball related, from high school to college?
My biggest adjustment was finding confidence. This was a struggle for me both in the classroom and on the court. I knew I was good enough because, otherwise, I wouldn’t have been accepted to the school or recruited to the team. But sometimes, you get a bad grade or you mess up a play, and when you’re not confident in yourself as a freshman, these little things were huge setbacks for me at the time. Then I realized that I was there to learn – to screw up BUT do better next time. Oddly enough, when I accepted that failure was inevitable I became a lot more confident! I tried harder, I failed harder, but when I didn’t fail I won harder!
What is one of your favorite TABLA memories?
Honestly, it’s really hard to pick. I’ve loved every year of TABLA. The experience of being able to work TABLA every year and meet new players, coach them, and help them reach their goals has been so amazing!
What is something fun you’ve been doing in quarantine?
I have been playing a lot of guitar