March 12, 2009

Chanel Perez: An Inside Scoop

YORK, PA – The No. 10 York College women’s basketball team advanced to the Sweet 16 in the 2009 NCAA Division III women’s basketball tournament Saturday, and with the next round will come a new memory and experience for senior forward Chanel Perez (Biglerville, Pa./Gettysburg) to add to her final season as a Spartan.

No matter the outcome of the tournament for the 27-2 Spartans, the season’s end is quickly approaching. For Perez, as with York’s five other seniors, every game could be her last.

“I’m so excited and am just trying to enjoy every minute,” Perez said. “Everyone has been telling us it’s going to go by so fast, and it has because the regular season is over. It’s hard to believe.

Perez, a 2008-2009 second-team All-CAC selection, said she is still working hard at every practice to be at her personal best.

“My motivation this season has been playing for my coaches, teammates, family and myself because it is the last season that I will play for the York College Spartans.”

Back when Perez was still playing high school basketball for Biglerville and Gettysburg, her college aspirations did not even include attending York.

“It was really weird because I chose York last minute,” Perez said. “I wanted to do physical therapy, so my [biology] major would’ve been here. Then I decided I wanted to do nursing, which has worked out to be good.

“I definitely wanted to play ball here. So I just chose the school, called the coach around April (of 2005) and said, ‘I’m coming to York College.’”

Remembering back to her freshman year, Perez said she never imagined her senior year would be as successful as it has been.

“I imagined us being successful because I think I’m a pretty positive thinker like that,” Perez said. “But what are we, 27-2 now? That’s amazing. I didn’t doubt it, but I didn’t expect it.”

Last season, Perez’s junior campaign, York finished 19-8 overall and 10-6 in Capital Athletic Conference play, good enough only for fourth place.

Well, it is not last season anymore.

“I think this year‘s biggest difference is our ‘one game at a time’ theme,” Perez said, “Because every other year we were ‘bound for hope’ and that was our little thing. We have [a theme] every year, and this year we said, ‘All right, let’s just take it one game at a time before we think about the Final Four.’ And it’s been pretty successful.”

But focusing too hard is also not good, Perez mentioned. She has her own method of loosening the team’s tension before games.

“Our pregame thing is we just goof around to music and dance around like idiots,” Perez said.

Sometimes that includes performing Beyoncé dances.

“I like to dance and I heard from my friends that she was giving out $2,500 if you could do the ‘Single Ladies’ dance just like her. So I try it out a little bit.”

Then the ladies leave the locker room and head onto the court, once again reminding Perez it may be her last time doing so.

“I start thinking, ‘This could be my last practice. This could be my last foul shot.’ And I get rid of that thought right away,” Perez commented. “I try not to think about my senior year because I just don’t want to come to the realization that basketball is going to be over.”

When the season finally does come to a close, Perez said the sport will still be around her, from working York College’s summer youth basketball camps to playing in leagues whenever she can. Perez said coaching may even be somewhere in her future.

Perez currently has a job at York Hospital and hopes to work in the neonatal intensive care unit or labor and delivery upon graduating. But for right now, Perez is still intensely focused on her studies.

“Being a nursing major, there’s so much stuff to do,” Perez said. “Hours and hours of clinical and paperwork, but I guess I enjoy it all…It’s a challenge, but it’s doable.

“Everyone says, “School first.” I do [put school first], but basketball keeps me sane. It’s two hours a day where I can not think about all that stressful stuff.”

So focusing on what is left of the basketball season, she heads back to the court – a court which for once has had a higher attendance than some of the men’s basketball games.

“I love the guys on the [men’s] team, but everyone would come for the guys’ game and then clear out for ours, or people would come at the end of our games because [the men] played after,” Perez said. “It’s definitely cool to see people enthusiastic about the women’s team – finally.”

When the Spartans hit the road, family is always tailing the caravan.

“My parents are at every game they can make. They’re really supportive, and it seems like all the parents this season are so excited and so supportive,” Perez said. “They’re nuts, and I love it.”

Perez said she appreciates the support during her playing years from family, former and current coaches, teammates, the community and fans.

“As much as they love watching us, we are so grateful to have them there,” Perez said.

With York tipping off in Rochester, N.Y., against Scranton in the Sweet 16 Friday at 6 p.m., Perez and her fellow seniors will try to prolong the time they have to wear a York basketball uniform.

“We’ve been playing together for almost four years now,” Perez said. “I definitely expected us to do something, but what we’ve done is really great.”

 

Written by Todd Shellock - York College sophomore sport management major

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