These days senior guard Presleigh York leads the Belton Lady Tigers on the court thanks to a choice she made two years ago.
Initially, York was a multisport athlete who competed in cheerleading, volleyball and basketball.
“My sister used to play volleyball and the coaches talked me into trying out for basketball, so I did,” she explained. “I ended up liking it a lot.”
The excitement she gets when she’s on the court and the happiness she feels from playing with her team led her to commit to focusing solely on basketball her sophomore year.
“It’s just a feeling I don’t get anywhere else,” York said of her love of the game.
Since she made that decision, she has also worn jersey No. 10, “It was kind of the last number left so I stuck with it, but there’s no special reason about it.
“But it’s definitely the number I want to keep from here on out though.”
York admits she doesn’t watch basketball on TV as she prefers to learn in person on the court.
Before every game she’ll sit with her team and cheer on the junior varsity squad before the halftime shootaround.
After the break, fans may notice York sitting alone.
“I sit by myself so I can think about what I’m going to do and how things are going to go,” she explained. “I tend to sit by myself so I can focus on what’s about to happen.”
In her final year playing for Belton, there is one goal she hopes to make come true, “I would like to make it to the state tournament with my team before going our separate ways.”
The possibility of that dream was reassured to York when the Lady Tigers took a 46-41 win over East View in Georgetown last month.
“It was the last game before our first district game and it was the one that our entire team actually played together,” she said. “We all played to our potential and just saw how well we work together when we all come together.
“It just made us realize how good we could be.”
York also gives back in another way on the court through the high school’s Partners P.E. program.
“I started doing Partners P.E. this year and I’ve developed a pretty incredible passion for special-needs children,” she said. “I love spending time with them.”
The program is a physical education class that pairs general education students with students who have special needs.
“It allows them to get out of the classroom, come into the gym and let loose,” York said. “I think that’s good for them because it also teaches us to work with people who aren’t like us and help them grow.”
Fellow senior Elijah Cabell is a student York has grown close to through the program.
“He’s actually the one who inspired me because I want to major in special education,” she said.
While the season is still young, the chance to represent her town one final time as part of the Lady Tigers has been one of a kind.
“I think it’s a cool opportunity because not everyone gets the chance to basically play and represent your city,” she explained. “For everybody to come and support you on Tuesday and Fridays — and even if they don’t come out to the games — they’re still supporting from home, so it’s cool to represent our city and see all the support we get.”
For those young fans in the stands who hope to play like York one day, she has one piece of advice, “Never give up because you’re always going to go through times that are harder than others and giving up should never be an option.
“You never know where you could get if you give up.”