Basketball player Sydnee Penn wears jersey with purpose

 

Senior guard Sydnee Penn has been a vital player for the women’s basketball team. Penn averages 12.8 points per game and 2.1 steals per game and 53 steals on the season, placing her second in the GLIAC conference.

Senior basketball player Sydnee Penn found her love for basketball before a majorette practice. Penn has been a huge success for the women’s basketball program. (Photo courtesy of Andy Smith)

Penn recently scored a career high 31 points against Ashland in early February. In that game, it appeared she couldn’t miss from three-point land.

“That was the most I ever scored in a game in my life,” Penn said. “If I could change anything about that game though, it would be trading my individual win (career high) for a team win.”

It is no surprise that the basketball player standout has proven herself on the court. With her driven attitude and great work ethic, Penn has shown what it means to be a team player both on and off the court.

She said she would sum herself up as a “realist.”

“Like everybody else, I wake up with goals every morning,” Penn said. “But my goals are different from everybody else’s I would say.  I wake up and tell myself, be completely honest with yourself today as well as being honest with my peers.”

Childhood Days

Most people just know Penn as the basketball player from McKinley High School. But before basketball, Penn did a different after-school activity.

Most kids grow up playing many sports, and as they get older they branch off into the one that they are most interested in. But for Penn it was different.

“Most people wouldn’t believe this, but at one point I was a majorette,” Penn said.

[pullquote]Penn has shown what it means to be a team player both on and off the court.[/pullquote]

Penn had never been involved in sports. It wasn’t until she picked up a basketball for the first time before majorette practice that she discovered her true passion for basketball.

“Our practices were on the other side of the gym, so I would often go hoop before practice,” Penn said. “And that’s when this passion for the game came about.”

From the very beginning, Penn had fallen in love with the sport.

Wearing the Jersey

Before being a Pioneer, Penn attended Shawnee State University. After her experience at Shawnee, Penn felt that she was seeking something more in basketball.

“I chose Malone simply because of Coach Mish,” Penn said. “From day one he sold me on this dream of leaving a legacy behind here at Malone, a legacy that no one would ever forget.”

Penn has displayed a team effort through her time at Malone and has emphasized putting the team first. (Photo courtesy of Andy Smith)

Head coach Jason Mishler gave Penn the opportunity to compete for a conference title and a national championship and to grow as a person with a solid group of women.

“Honestly, when I entered Malone they had only won one game the previous year,” Penn said. “Why I’m here playing is not for the school. I play here for the name on the front of the jersey and the people who believed in me most: my coaches, teammates and family.”

Since her time here, Penn has been a major contributor to the team’s success.

“This year I’m more motivated then ever, and I think it’s because this will be my last outing for real,” Penn said. “I attack practice when I’m tired with the mentality that ‘this is it for you Syd, let’s leave a legacy.’ Not individually but as a team.”

Penn isn’t an “I” type of player. She believes in team unity and is willing to give what the team needs from her.

“We have several encouragers, hustlers and simply great fundamental players,” Penn said. “I just play the role they need from me regardless of what it is, because at the end of the day, in order for us to accomplish the dream that we have, we all have to play our parts.”

Christian Background

With a few hits and bumps along the journey, Penn believes that faith and family have taken her to where she is today.

Most people think that church is a required step to having God involved in their lives. For Penn, Christianity is sought out to be something way more than attending church on a regular basis.

“I am a Christian and I grew up in a church, but my religious views are different from most,” Penn said. “I grew up my whole life going to church on Sunday, but once I reached a certain age, I felt that I didn’t really have to go to church every Sunday to still have a relationship with God.”

Penn feels that praying and knowing that God is there is the best relationship you can have regardless of what others think.

[pullquote]“We all are put on here to be something and that something can be achieved by having our priorities aligned,” Penn said.[/pullquote]

Penn’s priorities are faith, family, books and ball, in no particular order.

“I value God…but my family has taught me more than anyone could imagine,” Penn said. “My mother is the strongest woman I know, and no matter what, she has always been behind me and has pushed me to be all I can be.”

“My uncle played a strong role on me as well,” Penn said. “I would say he was the father figure in my life growing up.  I learned so much from him: what was right and what was wrong, what I should and could do and what I shouldn’t and couldn’t do.”

Life after Ball

Penn is also a senior communication arts major with an emphasis in media.

“Growing up, I never liked school, and I didn’t want to be a communications major,” Penn said. “I always wanted to be a physiologist, and when I transferred here, I was behind in that department, so I chose communications so I could graduate on time.”

Penn’s intentions are to graduate in the fall with her degree and then go back to school and obtain a master’s degree in psychology.

“I’ve always been fond of learning, knowing, and helping people with their problems or issues,” Penn said. “For some reason, I can’t always help myself (laughing).”

If she had the opportunity to play ball across seas, that would be her first choice out of college.

“If that opportunity was to come, I would take it quick fast and in a hurry,” Penn said. “Basketball is my passion, and I can see myself playing it if I had the opportunity for a long time after college, but if that doesn’t come, I’m sure I’ll make a living off of these degrees I’m pursing.”

 Justin Davis is a sports writer for The Aviso AVW.

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