University of Kansas point guard and Cherokee Nation citizen Angel Goodrich is not only getting noticed by sports publications for her elite performance, but also by teens in her former high school. (By Julie Hubbard - Native American Times)
The NCAA Division I player is gaining a reputation for overcoming injury to help lead her Kansas squad.
After Goodrich led her Sequoyah High School team to four straight state championship games and three title games, she joined the Kansas squad in 2008. She suffered a severe knee injury in her first two seasons that could’ve jeopardized her career.
“I’m not surprised by her success. She learned to lean on people and let people help her,” Kansas women’s basketball Head Coach Bonnie Henrickson said. “I thought she was special the first time I saw her. She has separated herself and made a name for herself as a phenomenal point guard.”
The injuries helped Goodrich learn valuable lessons and served as motivation to get back on the court, Henrickson said.
“That’s what pushes me. I know something can be taken away from me so quickly and easily,” Goodrich, 22, said. “I feel like experiencing those injuries made me stronger mentally.”
Goodrich stayed focused and worked to get back to the elite level status she experienced at Sequoyah. This season Goodrich has been named to the Wade Watch list, as well as a preseason third team All-American by the Lindy’s Sports publication, and honored as a preseason All Big XII by conference coaches. Goodrich also led the nation in assists per game last year and broke the conference record for assists in a season.
The individual statistics and team achievements have led to Cherokee teens following her career, some said. Sequoyah senior Courtney Jones, a point guard, said Goodrich’s demeanor and ability to overcome obstacles is uplifting.
“I love how she wanted to go somewhere to make a difference, and that’s what I want to do,” Jones said. “She is a big role model for me.”
Augusta Smith, a Sequoyah High School teacher who once taught Goodrich, said she knew Goodrich would one day inspire others.
“You sense it when you are around her,” Smith said. “It’s the Native pride in her that tells you that she will succeed. She has already made her mark, and she will continue to do that very thing.”
Goodrich said that perception is exactly what she wants to portray to the youth of the Cherokee Nation and teens in her former high school.
“I just want to be the person they look at and say how I didn’t let anything get to me,” Goodrich said. “I just want them to see the fight I have and not give up no matter what happens.”
Goodrich was the top performer Dec. 6 during a heartbreaking 56-64 loss to the Arkansas Lady Razorbacks in Fayetteville. She posted 21 points, six assists and four steals.
The Jayhawks rebounded 97-64 at home Dec. 9 against in-state rival Newman University.
The team has two roadtrips into Oklahoma coming up that give Goodrich’s Tahlequah area fans an opportunity to watch her in her final season at Kansas. The Jayhawks have conference games against Oklahoma State University in Stillwater Jan. 8 and the University of Oklahoma in Norman on March 2.
The Jayhawks and Goodrich have posted an 8-1 record so far and have climbed to No. 17 in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches polls.