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Tapia’s Basketball AdventurePosted: Updated:
EDINBURG – Valeria Tapia’s story begins in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico. A place where basketball is not exactly the sport of choice.
“I was thinking it would be cool to do something else,” said the UTRGV freshman guard. “Something different from the other people you know?”
Extra encouragement came from Tapia’s family.
“My dad was the one that actually pushed me to play basketball,” said Tapia.
From that point on, Tapia was hooked on hoops. At 12 years old, she moved to Brownsville, eventually enrolling at St. Joseph Academy. When she attended a basketball camp at UTRGV, she was immediately on the recruiting radar of Larry Tidwell.
“The thing that really stood out was her court awareness,” said the UTRGV women’s basketball coach. “She could really break down a half-court game, could distribute the ball, and could penetrate. She’s continuing to grow in that role and getting better each and every day.”
During high school, Tapia’s play on the court caught the attention of coaches back in Mexico. She was invited to join the under-19 Mexican National Team.
Last summer, Tapia played in the U19 World Cup in Italy.
“I think it really helped me to play against Australia, China, and Brazil,” said Tapia. “You’re playing against the best in the world.”
That international experience gave Tapia a new-found perspective on the game. She carries the pride of her roots every time she steps on the court.
“Being here it’s like I’m still representing my country,” said Tapia. “There’s people that don’t believe in Mexican people that say that Mexicans, we’re not that good or whatever. I know that we can do it. I’m still here representing my country.”