Friday night, the Wilkinson County girls' team will play in the semifinal region match-up against Glascock county.
Over the last couple of years, the team has really turned around their record. They have one senior to thank for a good bit of their success. Tinetta Smith is our 'Athlete of the Week' for her work on the court and her great grades in the classroom.
Head basketball coach Dartez Talbott inherited a Wilkinson County girls' program two years ago that hadn't experienced a lot of success. "After my first practice, Tinetta spoke up and said, 'We didn't win any games this year and we only won two last year, and we want to make an effort to win the region,'" he recalled. And I went, 'Oh, my goodness.' I said, 'You are now our captain,' and she's been a leader ever since."
She's a leader on the court and in the classroom. Tinetta Smith is like poetry in motion when it comes to her grades. She carries a 3.5 GPA and ranks ninth out of a class of 97 seniors. "Succeeding for the future, my parents always taught me to get my academics first and then go with extracurricular activities, so I've always liked school since I was six," Tinetta said with a smile.
"She's an excellent student, Coach Talbott bragged. She's a fighter. That's the best thing to say is she's a fighter. She hates to lose."
Coach Talbott says Tinetta's taken that fighter attitude and put this team on her back. After starting off 1-9 this year, the Wilko Warriors now sit at 14-10 and won their side of the region.
"Probably the question is what she doesn't do," Coach Talbott said. "She leads us in scoring, leads us in blocked shots, and leads us in steals."
And she leads them in big plays. Tinetta nailed a three-pointer at the buzzer to beat Baldwin this year. The crowd went crazy and Tinetta felt that her hard work on the court paid off.
"Yeah, for me, basketball really has a place in my heart, so when I do this, I do it at 110 percent. I don't like to half-step, and I think the girls see that during practice and during the game," she explained."
And colleges have seen her grades. Tinetta says she plans to continue her classwork at Georgia State and eventually go to grad school. "I actually want to get a doctorate in psychology and I want to work with military soldiers that have had bad experiences for war. I think that would be great for me," she said.
It's a bright future for a kid that's not scared of hard work.
"Some subjects, it comes easy, but as for stuff you're struggling in, just strive to do your best and never give up, because if you have faith and hope you need, you will succeed in life," Tinetta said.
Tinetta also makes it her responsibility to call each team member and make sure they make it to practice.