MACON, Ga. — Tabrayah Woodard is known as a "hooper," a basketball player, to those who truly follow the sport. As a sixth-grader at Rutland Middle School, it’s her first year playing organized ball on a team, and she’s loving every minute of it, making it a point to make a difference for her teammates and for everyone else who may follow in her footsteps.
You can tell by the Jordan 12s on her feet and how she’s so comfortable with the rock in her hands that Woodard absolutely loves the game of basketball.
Tabrayah has been shooting hoops for many years now, but this is her first season on a team playing organized basketball. Wednesday night during the regular season-ending game versus Miller Middle, Tabrayah got a chance to shine in the fourth quarter, scoring a basket for her team in what would be a loss for the 'Canes, but that bucket was also a win for the 12-year-old.
“I was ready for it,” says Woodard, “Ready to shoot the ball and try to win for the team.”
Her Head Coach Latanya Sandifer says she’s proud of the inspiration Tabrayah brings to the court, even if she doesn’t measure up to the standard.
“Immediately, everyone will look at her size and judge her and think that all basketball players are supposed to be tall,” says Sandiford, “But she has a love and passion for the game and actually a very good skillset, too, so she loves the game just like anybody else.”
As one of the rookies on the squad, #23 doesn’t play much, but she makes the most of her minutes on the floor. Earlier this season, she scored her first career basket in a game versus Weaver Middle, instantly becoming a fan favorite, and Tabrayah wants to keep that same energy to motivate fellow student athletes with similar challenges to not be afraid to give it their best shot.
“I wanna be on the team so I can be known as a girl who that knows how to play basketball, because I’m the only short girl on the court,” says Woodard. “They say, 'Ooh, you're too little to be on the basketball court,' but I don’t trust that."
Woodard and Sandiford say even though they didn’t make the playoffs, they are looking forward to playing again next season.