- By Jason Dougas Lewis
- In Student Athlete of the Week
Brittany Byrd is a two-time All City girl’s basketball player who carries a 3.5 grade point average at Fairfax High School. Her dream is to play at USC while attending film school. Photo by Jason Lewis
Byrd was honored with the U.S. Army Student Athlete of the Week award. For more information about the Army, visit HYPERLINK "http://www.goarmy.com" www.goarmy.com or contact them at 310-426-9875. Photo by Jason Lewis
Article originally published by the Los Angeles Sentinel. www.lasentinel.net
By Jason Lewis
Sentinel Sports Editor (2010-2013)
Fairfax has been known for their boy’s basketball team, who has brought home numerous championship banners. But on the girl’s team, senior shooting guard Brittany Byrd is looking to help her team put up a second banner of their own.
“My goal this year is to definitely get a ring,” Byrd said. “This is my senior year, so that is one of my top priorities, other than getting a scholarship.”
A scholarship is within Byrd’s reach, as she was been named to the All City team after her sophomore and junior seasons, and her 3.5 grade point average makes her a very appealing recruit to many universities.
Byrd is being recruited by Arizona St., The University of Portland, Cal St. Los Angeles, and Cal St. Dominguez. But the college that she really wants to go to is USC. Playing for Lakers great Michael Cooper, who is the head coach at USC, while being a film student, is the path that she wants to take, and being a standout student athlete can take her there.
Byrd started playing basketball when she was seven years old.
“I was always competitive, and I saw that the boys were always into sports,” Byrd said. “I always wanted to be better than the boys and better than the girls, so basketball was an outlet for me.”
Byrd started playing at Baldwin Hills Recreational Park, and she later played at Pan Pacific Park, but she knew where she needed to play to become a great player.
“I noticed playing more in Southern Los Angeles, there was much more competition there,” Byrd said. “The kids were more aggressive.”
Byrd improved her skills while playing at Rancho Cienega Sports Complex, where she played for the Clippers and Lady Rebels. From an early age she was one of the best players.
“I always stood out,” Byrd said. “I was never the kid who would get picked last.”
Byrd excelled because of her competitive spirit to be the best and taking time to perfect her game.
“It was the aspiration to want to be better,” Byrd said. “After practice I would put some shots up, practice my free throws. I ran track, so I had some speed. That always helped me out during the games.”
On the court, when Byrd is left in the short corner she can knock that shot down with ease, as she averaged 13 points per game last season. She also pulled down seven rebounds and dished out two assists per game.
Byrd has spent countless hours working on her offense, but she takes great pride in her defense.
“I like defense because being able to stop the other team from scoring, that just gives you another opportunity to score, so defense incorporates an offense,” Byrd said.
Byrd averaged eight steals per game last season, which was among the City’s best.
Last season Fairfax made it to the third round of the playoffs, but this year the plan is to go all the way.
“This year you can tell the hunger on the team,” Byrd said. “The bar is set. We know we have to hustle. Last year there was more lollygagging in practice. This year it’s strictly business. Everybody knows what they have to do and our main goal is to get a ring.”
Byrd also takes pride in her leadership abilities, which was why Head Coach Judi Edwards named Byrd team captain as a junior and again this season.
“Brittany is a very competitive young lady by nature,” Edwards said. “She does not like to lose. So when the team is down, a lot of times girls seem to have the tendency to shy away and get discouraged. But Brittany is the kind of young lady when we’re down she’s encouraging and she puts the team on her back. She gives them the direction to get the job done.”
Edwards believes that Byrd has what it takes to play on the next level, and she is working her contacts to give Byrd the opportunity to play at USC. In January Fairfax will host the L.A. City Showcase, which will feature Fairfax, Narbonne, Washington, Carson, Westchester, and other top teams from the City Section.
Coach Edwards is bringing all of those powerhouse teams together in part to gain interest from college coaches and scouts, who will be able to view a lot of talented players in one venue.
Any big time college program would benefit in having an athlete such as Byrd, especially because they will not have any issues getting her into the school academically. Byrd does not try to do the minimum to play high school sports, which is getting a 2.0 grade point average, she wants to excel in the classroom at a much higher level, which is not always easy while playing a sport.
“It’s really a matter of discipline,” Byrd said. “When I get home from practice I’m pretty tired like any other athlete would be. But it’s like mind over matter. You may be tired but you have to get your homework done. Nobody wants to do the work to get an A, but it has to be done.”
When Byrd gets home there are nights where she spends three hours doing homework and studying for exams. English is her favorite subject, which she takes AP classes for.
“Writing is based on diction, which is your word choice, and also your imagination,” Byrd said. “If you don’t have the imagination to come up with a story or use descriptive language to describe a scene that you may have had six years ago, then you might not be a great writer.”
USC is ideal for Byrd because of their film school, which is one of the best in the nation. She is interested in either script writing or cinematography.
Byrd has shaped herself into a well-rounded person by attending West Angeles of God and Christ and by performing several hours of community service.
“I love going to church, it’s an uplifting environment,” Byrd said. “When I was younger I didn’t like going to church because I felt like I was embarrassed or something to clap, but when you get older you grow out of that. So I really love going to church.”
Byrd takes great inspiration from hearing the sermons of Bishop Charles Blake, and she is amazed by his abilities.
“I don’t know how he keeps his voice that strong for a whole two hours,” Byrd said.
Byrd gets hope from attending church, and she’s hoping to be able to attend the college of her dreams, which is one of several things that she prays for.
For community service, Byrd has volunteered at Crescent Heights Elementary School, where she graduated from in 2005, and she has worked at a women’s shelter in Downtown Los Angeles.
“It opened my eyes to see how people in the greater Los Angeles area are poverty stricken,” Byrd said. “It’s hard to climb out of that. A lot of people had jobs. You never know somebody’s story. Somebody could have come to school every single day with a smile on their face, but you never know what happened that morning or what they are going home to, or if they have a home to go to.”
Whether Byrd plays basketball at USC or another big time basketball school, she has the right attitude and determination to succeed at a high level, and she is an asset to our community.