|Thursday, January 20, 2000||
Volume 65, Issue 77
UH Men's Basketball
credits family for recent success on the hardcourt
By Tom Carpenter
Five minutes with Shunta Hart can make the sun come out on a rainy day.
The Lady Cougar guard is not only a spark for coach Joe Curl's team plug on the basketball court, she's a vibrant and colorful woman whose smile and optimism is contagious off the court.
Shunta Hart (shooting) was playing in a tournament in Big Sandy when she was discovered by UH, among other schools. Former Cougar coach Jesse Kenlaw convinced her to come to Houston.
"My mother is my inspiration. I learned from her that if you work hard, then you'll get good results," Hart said.
Hart has already earned a bachelors degree in kinesiology. She is a graduate student pursuing her masters degree in physical education as she plays her final season for the Lady Cougar basketball team.
"I'm in my second semester of school to get my masters degree and I'm also looking into physical therapy classes because I want to be a physical therapist," she added.
Born and raised in a small town in east Texas, Hart's basketball skills went largely unnoticed until her senior year in high school, when scouts attending a game to watch another player took note of her.
"I was playing in a tournament in Big Sandy and won the Most Valuable Player in the tournament. From that point on, I started getting letters from different schools that wanted me to play for them," Hart said.
Former Lady Cougar coach Jesse Kenlaw convinced the Most Valuable Player of her district and the east Texas region to attend the University of Houston.
"I didn't want to come here at first because I wanted to stay close to home and attend Stephen F. Austin," Hart said. "But the more they kept talking to me, and once I got to know coach Kimble, I knew (UH) was the place."
Hart is the youngest of five children. She has two older brothers and two older sisters.
"Our family has always been a family of athletes and I learned from watching my brothers and sisters play," Hart said.
She honed her basketball skills by playing against her cousin.
"He was a male, and two years younger than me, so the competition was pretty intense. We all went to the same school, so we all played together," Hart said.
Hart is a three-year letterman at UH. She missed the entire 1996-97 season because of a knee injury. Her 1997-98 season ended after 14 games when she re-injured the same knee.
"I was really down about that, but the coaching staff and my teammates were very supportive of me. Everybody kept encouraging me and here I am, playing again," Hart said.
Hart is a firm advocate of believing in yourself. Her work ethic has earned her a college education which offers her many options when she gets out of college.
"The best thing about it is it hasn't cost me a penny," Hart said.
Her story is one of hard work, determination and a powerful will to succeed, whether it's on the basketball court or in the classroom.
Hart is a positive person. Her smile and joy is genuine and contagious. She's a shining example of the student athlete, and she intends to greet her future with that same joi de vivre.
"I learned from my mother: Hard work is what's going
to get you there. I've always been a hard worker and I've been successful.
My life philosophy is work hard and you'll achieve your goals," Hart said.
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