Loren Smith’s Column: Que Morrison
You see them coming up the court, the Lady Bulldogs, a daring and
dashing quintuple, but likely you don’t know the rest of the story. They are
good, damn good, but as they bob and weave, angling for an opening to
the basket and scoring with verve and aplomb, you are impressed with their
athleticism. You become doubly awed, however, when you learn that four-fifths of them are college graduates.
That is not a typo! Four of these impressive young women already
have their sheepskins and are in hot pursuit of Master’s degrees. They are
the epitome of the term student-athletes. Sometimes, unfortunately, that
term is impertinent. All too often, many collegiate athletes are just
that—athletes. The student part can be a misnomer, but not with Que Morrison, Gabby Connally, Maya Caldwell and Jenna Staiti.
Perhaps, the telling influence with this Fab Four is that their coach,
Joni Taylor, enjoyed a similar experience during her days on campus. As
an undergraduate at Alabama, she was about as “all-around” as a student-
athlete could be. Her modus operandi was to make more than passing
grades—she wanted to excel in the classroom as well as on the court.
Her coaching credentials reflect that being an overachiever can
continue in the “after-campus-life.” She has just been named coach-of-the-
year by her fellow SEC coaches.
The leader of her “Fab Four,” Que Morrison has been singled out for
high honor, too. The league coaches voted her the best defensive player.
Morrison, with an electric and abiding smile, hails from Riverdale where the influence of her mother, Tonya, was the foundation for her to excel as a student-athlete.
“My mother,” she says, “made sure that I always studied
as hard as I played. It was the same with my brothers. She was a very
good athlete herself and she expected us to excel in class. She stressed
discipline in everything. School, basketball and house chores.”
In sports, box scores are always important, and seldom reflect
academic excellence, except for Georgia’s “Fab Four.”
# 23, Que Morrison: has earned a degree in communication studies and is pursuing a Master’s in sports pedagogy.
# 2, Gabby Connally: earned a degree in criminal justice in three
years and is pursuing a Master’s in public administration; Interned with the
Athens-Clarke County Police Department and has secured an internship with the U. S. Secret Service.
#11, Maya Caldwell: with a degree in communication studies, she is
on the way to a Master’s in non-profit management and leadership.
# 14, Jenna Staiti: after earning a degree in human development and family science, she is studying for a Master’s in sport pedagogy.
One can readily see between the above lines, that this quartet is not
only excelling at a game they love and distinguishing themselves in the
classroom as they compete, but are likely to become proponents of
altruism when their playthings days are over.
You see them as good citizens, giving back to their communities and
bringing about a positive influence with those whom they live and work.
Family first advocates. Reaching out to kids and offering a helping hand.
Que Morrison, for example, has already thought about becoming a
coach, like her mentor, her coach, who has been a role model for her since
they first met. “I admire her so much,” Que says. “She sets the best
example for us.”
In her down time, which there is not a lot of, you might find Que
interacting with kids at Barrow Street School, which is across the street from the Butts-Mehre Building, the administrative heartbeat of Bulldog athletics.
“I have always enjoyed spending time with kids. I want to help kids, which is why I am planning to become a coach. My coaches and my teachers have meant so much to me in my life.”
That would include her mother and her AAU coach, Kirk Pointer, who
coached her in summer basketball and introduced her to travel to places
like Miami and Orlando. She competed at Disney’s Wide World of Sports
complex, which was a memorable experience; and has enjoyed visiting other campuses while at UGA. However, there is no place like home.
When she first visited Stegeman Coliseum as a high school prospect,
she was taken by the excitement of the college game and was smitten by
the aurora of the campus. “I was so overwhelmed,” she remembers. “I
wanted to be down on the court with the Georgia players. It made me
want to be a Bulldog. The game was with Florida, and Georgia won I couldn’t believe the excitement.”
Que, who enjoys singing, dating back to her youth choir days, is most
highly regarded for her defensive acumen. While she scores in double
figures, she leads her team in steals (46) and assists (80). Her free throw
percentage of 88% makes her lethal when she is fouled, especially late in the game.”
When the teams take the floor—Georgia and the opponent—look for
the best player wearing opposing colors. Then you will find Que covering
her like a blanket—throughout the game. Her intensity and indefatigability
is why opposing coaches voted her the SEC’s best defender.
Que has not met Uga X, the Georgia mascot, who is also known as “Que.”
That photo op should come about soon—two famous Dawgs on
campus. Maybe they could sing as a duo: “Glory, Glory to Ole Georgia.”
By Su Ann Bird AMERICUS – South Georgia Tech Sophomore 6’ 7” forward Jalen Reynolds of Darien, GA was... read more