Jalana Childs is a sophomore forward on the K-State women’s basketball team. Through the Wildcats’ first 22 games this season, the native of Orlando, Fla., is averaging 6.9 points and 4.5 rebounds. Childs, majoring in hotel and restaurant management, recently sat down with The Collegian to discuss a variety of topics, including her surprise invitation to college basketball.
Q: Being so far from your hometown, what made you choose K-State?
A: When they were looking at me, I wasn’t even thinking about going to college to play basketball. One summer – I think it was my sophomore year – I went to a camp here. It was the first camp I’d ever been to. I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t even know what it was for. So I came here and did the whole thing, and the people were just amazing. They were so nice. That was a big part of why I’m here. This is the only school I really looked at.
Q: So you just got an unexpected phone call?
A: Yeah. My high school coach called me and told me to call Coach Patterson, who basically offered me. We talked for a while.
Q: You really had no plans to play in college?
A: Nope, not at all. I thought academics was going to bring me in. Not like an academic scholarship, but I would eventually go to college and just be me, just be a student.
Q: I’ve heard you’d like to work with underprivileged children. Any idea what you’d like to do with that?
A: My mom has a friend in Orlando who has an autistic son, and I baby-sat him and his sister a couple times. It’s just so amazing to see how he doesn’t speak at all. He doesn’t say any words, so being around him and communicating with him was just a joy for me because I got to see him smile and be happy.
Q: Is that something you’d like to do professionally?
A: Obviously, my major would not provide that for me, but maybe in the future, I could do a volunteer program. Just on the side, I’ll see what I can do to help any community.
Q: OK, back to basketball. One might say you had the privilege of sharing the floor with Shalee Lehning and Marlies Gipson last season. Did that help you transition to a level of basketball you didn’t even know you’d be at?
A: Well, it helped me a lot to play the game faster. The summer I got here, I was just overwhelmed. I had no idea how I was going to last. But, being able to play with Shalee and Marlies, and really all those seniors who graduated, was a big help. It showed me what you have to do to be great. And they’re still here, so we’re still learning from them.
Q: So who do you prefer? Shalee and Marlies the teammates or Shalee and Marlies the coaches?
A: Shalee and Marlies the teammates. I think because they could basically coach me on the floor while being my teammates.
Q: Is there anything in particular you’d like to accomplish on the floor before you graduate?
A: I just want to be known as an example, as a great leader. Just something great, whether it’s in rebounding, scoring, assists, I don’t even know. I just want to make myself known at Kansas State, have my name be remembered.
Q: With not a lot of girls available to play right now, do you feel like you’ve had to step up into a leadership role as a sophomore?
A: I don’t feel like I’m there yet as a leader, but I do feel like I should be. That’s what’s missing for me as a total player. It’s definitely an aspect that Coach Patterson tries to put in our heads every day.
Q: What kinds of things to do you like to do when you’re not on the road or on the hardwood?
A: Well, I have general chemistry and it’s kind of killing me right now, but besides homework, I like to watch shows over and over again. Heroes is my favorite show. I watch Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice over and over again. I have all the seasons on DVD.
Q: I actually heard a rumor that you secretly want to be on Grey’s. Care to elaborate?
A: (Laughing) Maybe if it were a reality show.
Q: Is there anyone on the team you like to hang out with?
A: Anyone and everyone, but I’m really close to Ashley Sweat and Kelsey Hill. I escape to Kelsey Hill’s house sometimes because the dorms, they can get pretty crazy.