An eighth grader on the Foundation Academy girls basketball team, Aliyah Perry isn’t afraid of a challenge. Perry primarily plays at the four and is one of coach Deborah Pennick’s leading scorers and go-to players.
When, and how, did you first get into basketball?
I was in third grade when I first started and my best friend was a guy, so I wanted to hang out with him more and his sport was basketball. Then a coach saw me playing and he wanted me to play for his team.
What has kept you motivated to stay in the sport for so long?
I would say the competition — I am very competitive, and I love going against people. And if I see someone better than me, my goal is to be better than them.
Have you always played at the power forward position?
Last year was my first year actually — handling the ball. Before I was just a tiny little girl underneath the basket just getting rebounds.
What has been your favorite thing about playing at Foundation?
Oh, my teammates for sure … it’s like a family. It’s not “this person’s team” or “they’re better than me” — no, we’re all a team. If she scores, I score, and if she got that rebound, I got that rebound.
What is the hardest part about playing at the power-forward position?
I would say the hardest part is having the mindset to make that pass — if I see a teammate open but I don’t want to force the play, then I won’t pass it. At the same time, I want to do what my coach says and run the play.
What is it like as an eighth grader to play against older girls as a member of the varsity team?
I love it. Some games it’s easy, but then other games are tough — there’s always someone better than me on the court. I like competition, so I love playing against older people because it makes me better as a player, and it makes my team better.
Did you have any goals in mind that you wanted to accomplish coming into this season?
I want to get my confidence level up, because I felt like I wasn’t good enough to play against people who were older than me. But as soon as I got training and met Coach P., my confidence level was like, “I got this, I got this.” And that’s basically what you have to have — you have to have that mindset of when you go out there, you put it all out there on the court.
Do you have a favorite team or player that you enjoy watching?
Teams not really, but I was with Golden State — and I’m still with them because I don’t want to be a bandwagoner — and then my favorite player overall is Diana Taurasi. I love the way she plays and I’m still trying to get the off-the-dribble shot like her. And then I hear so many things about how she is a leader on and off the court and everywhere she goes.