It’s big for any student-athlete who is making the step up from high school to college competition, or transferring in from another institution — because through the ups and downs, student-athletes want to feel like their backs are protected.
For Anyia Pride, that’s really all that she’s desired since graduating from Withrow High School in the metro Cincinnati area.
Now at Shawnee State after transferring from Cleveland State University, Pride feels like she’s found a place that treats her as if she is part of the family from the outset.
That place, you ask? Shawnee State University — where Pride, a 6-1 sophomore forward, will be competing under the women’s basketball banner for the 2019-20 season on forward in the hopes of bringing the Mid-South Conference Tournament Championship hardware — and possibly more — back to its rightful home.
“I finally feel like I can call a place ‘home,’ or my home away from home,” Pride said. “I just feel like being here, I’m playing for something bigger than myself. We’re chasing something great. I’m really excited about that.”
Pride, who averaged 6.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, and 1.3 steals per game as a sophomore, made tremendous strides over the final two seasons of her high school career by averaging 11.7 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.2 steals, and 2.1 assists as a junior and 11.3 points, 10.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.8 steals as a senior.
During that stretch, Pride improved her field goal percentage in every season — ultimately bumping up her field goal percentage by seven percentage points from her sophomore campaign to her senior year — and, despite limited opportunities, showcased her three-point marksmanship, knocking down 14 of her 35 three-pointers attempted over her final three seasons of play. She was named as a Division I Honorable Mention All-Star by the Cincinnati Enquirer and was named to the Eastern Cincinnati Conference’s (ECC) Honorable Mention unit.
“It was great,” Pride said. “I had a lot of good friends there and a lot of people that cared about me. That was my family there.”
After heading north to play for the Vikings of Cleveland State, Pride made the decision to transfer back to Southern Ohio, where SSU, who came calling for her services, won out. Pride’s already been pleased with the tutelage that Jeff Nickel and his staff have provided. Nickel is 166-47 during his tenure with the Bears, which has included four Mid-South Conference Tournament Championships, three Mid-South Regular Season Championships, and a No. 1 overall ranking (2018). Pride’s addition could aid Shawnee State in its pursuit of further hardware.
“We’re just trying to get our chemistry up, and I’m trying to learn how my teammates play and where I can fit in,” Pride said. “We want to make each other better. I have to make sure that I keep my energy level high, because if I’m up, I feel like that will help my teammates as well. I know I’ve already been aided. Everyone is nice here. Everyone’s helping. I feel like they have done more for me in a month than coaches who I have been around for three years.”
For the immediate future, however, Pride is also focused on reaching a long-term goal that she’s had for herself.
“I want to reach my full potential,” Pride said. “I’ve never reached my full potential. I’ve had some challenges, so I hope that this will be the moment where I take advantage and do that.”