Senior forward returns after missing a year

Senior forward Makena Randle, is preparing to take one of her free throws against Christian Brothers Jan. 10. Randle returned to the team after missing the 2012-13 season.

by Student Writer Matt Suleski

After taking a year off from playing basketball to become a mom, Mekena Randle is back on the court for the Lions.

As a junior in 2012-13, Randle was named first-team all-conference after putting up 11.3 points and 9.2 rebounds per game to lead the Lions. This season she is picking up right where she left off, averaging 11.1 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.

Randle said having her son, Bryce Clark II, has helped her mature not only off the court but on it as well.

“It’s not about you anymore,” she said. I really became selfless. It is really strenuous on me because you have basketball, class and you have a baby. And they don’t always sleep through the night so even if I am tired I can’t go to sleep at night because I may have homework to do. But it’s a sacrifice that I’m making right now so I’ll be able to provide for him in the future.”

Randle is playing under second-year head coach Missy Tiber for the first time.

“It’s been hard for Makena because she didn’t play a year ago,” Tiber said. “So you’re asking her to learn a new style and playing with me for the first time, so it’s an adjustment for her. But I think for the most part she is coachable. She works hard and I think the underclassmen listen to her.”

Adjusting to a new system under the Tiber regime has had its difficulties, but Randle said she has been up for the challenge.

“I feel like I’m pretty coachable so it hasn’t been too tough,” Randle said. “Adjusting from Fowler to Tiber hasn’t really been too hard. The biggest adjustment has just been getting back into basketball. Having not played for a whole year the problem hasn’t necessarily been getting back in shape more than anything but just getting my quickness back, finishing layups and getting into the grove of playing.”

Randle, with the responsibility of a child, now faces even more challenges than the typical NCAA athlete.

“It’s a challenge. You take a year off and you have a baby and then you come back and have so many responsibilities,” Tiber said. “She’s a single mom and she does give some help, but she’s a single mom most of the time. She gets up she goes to class, she takes her kid to day care, she goes to pick him back up and finds someone else to watch him and then comes to practice.

It’s tough, but she makes it happen and she’s mature enough to handle it.”

Randle makes no excuses for being away from the game for a year and has new found fortitude after having a child.

“I just love the game of basketball,” Randle said. “Being away from it hurt me but at the same time I have the mental strength so when I came back I was not going to give myself the excuse of ‘oh well I was off for a year so I’m not doing this or that.’ I felt from day one had my mind toward coming back so I need to at least try to do better than I was when I left.”

Quitting basketball was never an option for Randle as she could still follow her desires even though she was now a mother, she said.

“There wasn’t any question I wanted to come back and it was just if (Tiber) wanted me to play,” she said. “She asked me to, so I knew I would then.”

Randle said seeing her son after the game helps cope with a loss.

“My son is at every home game,” she said. “When he’s at the game he’s always sitting right behind the bench. It helps after a loss to go and see him. It still hurts to lose but there’s more to life than just basketball.”