Lady Warriors have never-quit player in Roberts

By Jeff Birchfield
STAR STAFF

   Former North Carolina State basketball coach Jim Valvano would have loved the play of Happy Valley Lady Warrior Kandra Roberts.
   Valvano eloquently stated in his last major public speech before falling to cancer, "Never give up, don't ever give up." If you've seen the Lady Warriors play this season, you know this is how No. 32 approaches every game.
   "Kandra is the one we look to, to get us shots," said her head coach, Ben Godsey. "She means the world to us. I love the way she plays with a fierceness, and she is very competitive. There are good times and bad times, ups and downs in a season, but Kandra always is out there giving it her best all the time.
   "No matter the situation, you look for Kandra to be on the floor hustling and diving for loose balls. She continues learning the game every day. Her defense position with her hands and feet have improved so much this year."
   Despite the efforts of Roberts, the team is struggling at this point of the season, registering a dismal 3-15 overall record. Still, the senior wing feels this team still can make some noise in the postseason.
   "I think this team has drawn closer together," said an optimistic Roberts. "I think the harder we practice, we play more as a team. Being a senior, I try to step up and lead my team, but I can't do it by myself.
   "Our team is young, but I'm proud of us. We help each other keep our heads up. Even though we have a losing season, I think we might surprise some people at tournament time."
   While it has a disappointing season in the win-loss column, Kandra has accomplished some great individual feats. She is averaging a team high 12.7 points a game and has scored almost 1,200 points over her career at Happy Valley.
   "To me scoring over 1,000 points had been a goal," stated Roberts. "I'm surprised that I was able to score 1,000 points. When I came up here my freshman year, I never thought I would start on the varsity as a freshman.
   "Now that it's my senior year, I feel like I have slowed down and shown greater intensity. I can actually say that I am proud of myself for the effort I give. I just want to do my best and go out with a good senior year."
   Her never-give-up attitude comes from a family environment where sports has always played a big part. Kandra is the daughter of Jackie Roberts, an employee for Preferred Medical, and Betty Roberts, who works at the Johnson City Medical Center.
   Older brother Ansley currently promotes music in this area. Before that, he also played basketball atop Warrior Hill. So did her sister Rachelle, who is married to former HV hoopster Mark Davis.
   "My family is the number one thing that has helped me going through high school," said Roberts. "I have been through some hard times and my family has supported me all the way. They are here at every game. They sit on the side and keep my head up. They keep my stats and they make sure they support me. I love my family."
   The first couple of seasons Roberts played for legendary coach Mike Rader. After Rader moved on to become principal at Happy Valley High, Godsey took over the Lady Warrior program. Roberts says that both have helped mold her into the player that she has become.
   "Coach Rader taught me a lot," expressed Roberts. "When he put me on the varsity, he told me that if I had the ball to try to score. That doesn't mean that I don't look for other people on the team. He just meant to help the team out.
   "It was tough on Coach Godsey to come in as a new coach. It was different because each coach has a different way of coaching. You have to get used to them and they have to get used to you. He's done well. Even though we haven't done as well as we thought, he still believes in us. Coach (Larry) Abel and coach (Kerry) Killian, they still believe in us, too. That helps us keep our heads up."
   Showing a preference for English in the classroom, Roberts stated a desire to become a teacher and coach in the future. However, first on the agenda she wants the opportunity to continue her playing career.
   "I would love to go to college and play ball," said Roberts. "Right now, I feel that I'm not big enough, but if there is a college who gives me the chance, I want to play ball.
   "That's one thing I hope for. I plan on going to college even if I don't play ball, but I hope I get the chance. I've had a lot of experience in high school ball and I give 100 percent each time I'm out there. I try my best to play team ball and to keep everyone going."
   When asked about Kandra going to a collegiate program, Godsey gave a ringing endorsement.
   "I feel she can play at the next level," said Godsey. "She has a good shot, but her athleticism, quickness and the way she runs the floor can help somebody out. She can help someone at the next level.
   "We play her at the two and three position, but she can adapt to handling the ball a little more and playing guard in college. For us, we put her at the wing where she can drive and dish and lay the ball in the hole. She does everything we ask of her."
   The one thing Happy Valley doesn't have to ask is for Kandra Roberts to give her best effort. She takes care of that herself.