Each month Eastbay is highlighting a top high school athlete by spotlighting their accomplishments both in and outside the game. This month’s winner is basketball player Elizabeth Elliott from St. Mary’s Academy in California. Elizabeth is a four-year team captain and starter who was named Camino Real League MVP in her freshman and sophomore seasons. She also displays an incredible work ethic in the classroom, posting a 4.33 weighted GPA, which is one of the best in her class. Elizabeth earned St. Mary’s Student-Athlete of the Year award three times and has accepted a full-ride scholarship to play basketball at the University of Pacific. Elizabeth was nominated by her basketball coach Tramon Steele for being a tremendous athlete on the court and even better student in the classroom. Here’s Elizabeth, in her own words, on her experience as a high school student-athlete.
What is your definition of a successful student-athlete?
My definition of a successful student-athlete is a person who competes on the court and in the classroom. If one can manage a hectic schedule while juggling demanding AP commitments along with being the best teammate and player they can be, then that person is definitely working towards success. I believe a successful student athlete also has a backup plan or can rely on their academics when the ball stops. Lastly, a successful student athlete knows their limits on and off the court and still manages to love the sport while merging it with school requirements.
What has been the highlight of your athletic career so far?
I have a few highlight moments that I will cherish forever. The biggest one is receiving a scholarship to play basketball at a Division 1 University. There are over 399,000 plus girls that play high school basketball and only 1.3% get to play at the Division 1 level. So, receiving a scholarship to play basketball is a huge highlight of its own. The other highlights in my athletic career are being recognized as a top 100 player by ESPN HoopGurlz, winning league MVP as a sophomore, and being recognized by my city as one of the best players.
Who is your role model in athletics?
I would have to say my father, Kevin Elliott, and my high school coach Tramon Steele. They’ve both been there for me throughout my high school and travel ball career. They both took the unconventional route to play college basketball, so their knowledge is real and raw. They work really well together to make sure I have everything I need to be successful. I can go to them for advice on different things and they always have my best interest in mind. They’ve really shown me that there’s more to the game than just getting buckets, like showing up for my team, making lifelong connections, and representing those who’ve come before me.
What do you love most about competing in athletics?
Being in a team atmosphere. It’s one of the best feelings in the world. From putting your jerseys on to picking the pregame music, having teammates that you can call family just makes competing ten times better. I also love playing in big games. I like to prove others wrong when we play teams that are “better” than us. It allows you to test your limits and shows your teammates that you have their back—win, lose, or draw. Breaking boundaries and expectations is one of the best parts of competing.
What are some goals you’d like to achieve after high school?
After high school I will be attending the University of Pacific on a full basketball scholarship. For a long time, my main focus has been to get to college. Now that I’ve achieved it, the work finally begins. One of my goals is to win the West Coast Conference championship and to compete for a starting position. I also have ambitions to play overseas for a while. Academically, I would like to pursue a master’s degree or even a doctorate degree in psychology.
Amy Bream has the ultimate excuse for not going to the gym. Born without the majority of her right leg, Amy has used a prosthesis since she was old enough to walk. But this didn’t stop her from excelling in her workouts and challenging herself to learn how to kickbox. We got to talk to Amy about how she learned to turn her excuses into motivation.
Q: What were some old excuses you would tell yourself when you didn’t want to go to the gym?
A: I used to have so many excuses. My biggest excuses were the fear of failure and the fear of embarrassment. But then I came to the realization that everyone fails. You’re going to fail and you’re going to be just fine. So, I say do it anyway. And as for my fear of embarrassment, I realized people actually don’t care that much – and I mean that in a good way. I had this mindset that everyone was looking at me, but people really weren’t, and the few that were weren’t worth worrying about.
Q: How did you silence those excuses?
A: I was able to silence my excuses by spending time with someone who held me accountable. I told her my goal, that I wanted to go to the gym and be less afraid, and she kept me to that and showed up every day with me. I also silenced my excuses by reciting positive affirmations. I realized the power of my words, and that just saying simple things like “I can do this” or “you’re going to finish this” really affected me over time. I started to believe those things and live them out.
Q: What is the definition of motivation to you?
A: To me, motivation can be confused with a feeling, and motivation isn’t about a feeling. Motivation is really a mindset. I train because my reason for training is so much bigger than anything physical. So when I don’t feel motivated, I remember why I’m doing this. It’s about overcoming my fears and pushing past what I think are my limits. It’s about being consistent and showing up every single day.
Q: What’s your advice to someone who wants to start training in a gym?
A: I get asked all the time about what to do or how to start. I think you can look to other trainers or even online to see what they do as an example as a start. Everyone has to start somewhere, and everyone isn’t perfect at first. Don’t let that stop you from starting your training journey.
Q: What if they want to start but are intimidated by the gym?
A: I would say that it doesn’t really matter what you look like, and also that everyone feels a little intimidated at first. I think the best way to overcome that intimidation is really reminding yourself and deciding for yourself why you want to work out in the first place. Because the “why” will always be bigger than the fear. There’s a lot of things that I still am afraid of doing or trying, but my “why” is still always going to be louder than my fear of failure. If you have a “why” that’s important to you, everything else will fade away.
Q: What is the biggest misconception about your fitness journey?
A: One of the biggest misconceptions is that I’m someone who wants to workout every day and that I’m excited and amped to do it every day. There are actually very few days that I feel extremely motivated to workout. But I’ve seen the importance of consistency and I’ve seen the positives of what working out has done for my life beyond just improving my physical well-being.
The term “long-distance running” is pretty arbitrary when you think about it. For some of us, long-distance running means going on a five-mile jog. For others, it’s competing in a 26.2-mile marathon. And for ultrarunners like Jared Hazen and Mayra Garcia, it’s waking up before the crack of dawn to run 50 or 100 kilometers over the span of a full day.
That last group of people are outliers, of course, but over the past decade, there has been an increase in distance runners gravitating towards ultrarunning. We got to talk to Jared and Mayra about why they choose this extreme sport, what their workout regimen is like, and what HOKA products they use to train in.
Why did you get into ultrarunning?
Jared: I started running through competing in cross country and track. Once I was in high school, I was introduced to the trails through one of my high school coaches. I grew up in a pretty small town but we happen to have an ultramarathon that was pretty popular in the area, so I started running those trails more. Once I started learning more about ultrarunning, I was pretty fascinated by how somebody could run like 100 miles when I was only going out on the weekends and running 20 miles and getting destroyed on the trails. So it really was that fascination that led me to ultrarunning.
Mayra: I had a great coach and motivator. When I was running cross country, I didn’t know that there were races more than 3.1 miles. And my coach said that I could do more, do a marathon, and I just fell in love with it after that. My coach also told me that I would get stronger in road races if I started running trails too. So that’s really how I found ultrarunning and trail running.
How do you train for such a rigorous event like an ultramarathon?
Jared: I train year-round and there’s a certain focus on fitness that I really apply across a lot of different distance races. But when it comes to my specific training for ultras, once it gets closer to those races I ramp up the intensity of my training and focus on the long runs. I live in Flagstaff, so the Grand Canyon is only an hour and a half away, so that’s one of my favorite training spots. I’ll just go there and do 20 or 30 mile runs. When I’m getting ready for a long race, I usually get in three or more 20+ mile runs a week.
Mayra: I like to just put in miles. I also think recovery is a big part of getting my body ready for these longer races too. Every two weeks I get massages to make sure that I don’t get injured. But really it’s all about running A LOT. During the week, I like to stay on roads so I don’t lose my speed. I see my coach on Mondays and Wednesdays, so on a typical Monday we do the track. I do 400s and build myself up to 1600s. And on Wednesdays, we do tempo runs and hill repeats. When I’m on my own on Tuesdays, I do long, easy runs, and then on the weekends I run through the mountains. If I can, I’ll run the actual race trail itself to see where I can pick up and gain some time so I’m ready for race day. But usually I’m running like 10 to 20 miles on those days.
What has been the highlight of your running career so far?
Jared: I would say the runner-up finish at Western States (a 100-mile endurance run in Northern California). I have a fairly long history with Western States. I ran it in 2014 and 2015 and then didn’t run it for a few years. I got back into it last year and had a great race. I’ve really seen a nice progression there too. The first year I ran it, it took me about 17 ½ hours, and five years later it only took me 14 ½. It’s nice to see that type of progression and know that the work I’m putting in year after year is paying off.
Mayra: I think just running the 50ks around my area. Running is a small world – everyone knows everyone in the running community and that’s been a highlight for me. A lot of people got to see where I started, running 3:40 or 3:50 marathons and then got to see me drop down to 3:20 and win some of our local races. It’s awesome to see them smile or come congratulate me on the work I’ve done over the years. That’s what makes me truly happy.
What HOKA products do you use for your training?
Jared: My go-to training and racing shoe has been the Speedgoat, which is convenient. It’s a shoe that I can train in all the time, and it’s also a high-performance shoe that I can take and race in. It’s nice because on race day, it’s nothing new. It’s a shoe I’ve run hundreds of miles in. It’s lightweight, it’s got protection, it’s got grip. I pretty much take it anywhere, even the Grand Canyon.
Mayra: I use all their stuff. Seriously, all of it. For marathons or road, I like to use the Clifton or the Carbon. But on the trails I use the Speedgoat or the Mafate, and sometimes the Torrent too. I love trying out all their shoes. The HOKA shorts have deep pockets for storage, too, and their sport bras are amazing and supportive. I truly am a fan of all their stuff.
Shop all the gear Jared and Mayra use to elevate their runs and maximize their distance at eastbay.com
A.J. Andrews is known for her dynamic flair on the field, and eye-catching fashion off of it. She is recognized as one of the most exciting softball players in the world and is the first woman to ever win a Rawlings Gold Glove award. Off the field, A.J. is a motivational speaker who promotes women and girls’ empowerment and works as a special guest at softball clinics around the nation.
A.J. also preaches that one of the most important skills to work on in softball is hand-eye coordination. And we got an inside look into one of her favorite drills that focuses on exactly that. Watch the video and follow the steps below to improve your hand-eye coordination and elevate your game.
Step-by-step Drill Instructions
Grab some tennis balls or softballs.
Get a friend, teammate, or parent to toss you the balls.
Start the drill in position like you would in the field of play.
Have the individual tossing the balls stand 5-10 yards away facing you.
To start the drill, have the individual toss one ball at a time in the air in different directions. For example: As soon as you catch one ball to your right, have the person throw another ball to your left.
Repeat the process back and forth from right to left.
Mix it up by having the individual throw the balls from front to back as well as side to side.
A.J.’s specialty is making spectacular plays on the field with ease. Check out the full list of products she uses to stay at the top of her game by clicking here or going to eastbay.com.
Tamera “Ty” Young is a 12-year WNBA veteran and CEO of TY1 Gear LLC. She was the No. 8 overall pick in the 2008 WNBA draft, and the first female from James Madison University to ever get drafted. She also embraces being more than an athlete, and speaking on the racial and social justice issues that impact the country today. Check out her thoughts on how women’s basketball players have always been actively involved and on the forefront of change.
Q: Women’s basketball players have been extremely active in driving awareness to racial and social justice issues this season. Have you noticed this, and what are your thoughts on the subject?
A: Yeah, women’s basketball players have always been at the forefront, fighting for justice and fighting for equality. And there’s still things that are happening where we have to continue to try and bring more awareness to the issues. It’s not something that just happened either. It’s something that’s been happening, but because there are issues we’re still facing, whether that’s racism or whether that’s equality, we’re still having to fight for it. I think that the quality of social media is also helping bring more awareness to the issues, but overall women have always been at the forefront of this fight. It’s something we’ve always had to fight extra for too. We’ve already been fighting for our own rights, and that makes us more aware and makes us want to be in a position to use our platforms to fight for it.
Q: What did you think about the WNBA’s decision to dedicate this season to addressing these issues?
A: I wasn’t surprised by it. Because, like I said, women have always been at the forefront of these fights. We’ve always been finding ways to fight for social justice, for equality, to fight against racism. So when I saw that happen I thought it was amazing. But I wasn’t really surprised by it the way others may have been surprised. I just feel like women have always been using their platform for good. Women are the most marginalized group, so we have to fight the hardest.
Q: What do you thinks needs to be done by athletes and people in this country to spark substantial change?
A: To really spark the change, I think we all have to fight together and stand together. Not just athletes, everyone in general, and especially Black people. When you’re all together on something, it’s harder for people to be against you. We can put pressure on companies that we work with to take a stand. We have to lead the people who look up to us.
Q: What about the people that think who athletes shouldn’t speak on social or racial injustice issues?
A: Those people are part of the problem. You’re telling someone, just because they’re an athlete, that they need to “shut up and dribble.” But the majority of these athletes are Black. So how can you tell them not to fight against racism? If an athlete educated themselves, then they should be able to speak on what they know and believe.
Q: You’ve inspired so many young girls to be unapologetically themselves. What advice do you have for the next generation of female athletes?
A: I’ve just always been self-motivated to fight for what I want. They were my goals and dreams and I never wanted to just do what others thought was best for me. I am a firm believer of hard work, being a good person, and being myself. That took time, of course, but playing sports helped build my own self confidence. Throughout my whole journey, the three things that remained constant were to work hard, be a good person, and make the sacrifices that needed to be done for whatever future endeavor I had. So for the girls, I always tell them to be themselves, believe in themselves, and prove the doubters wrong. It’s hard for others to believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself first.
Jaliyah Manuel is a basketball prodigy, all-around athlete, actress, and philanthropist. She has taken the social media world by storm with her unmatched skills and hard work ethic. Jaliyah is known for being an extremely talented, multi-sport athlete, but one of her most impressive traits is how well she can handle a basketball at her young age.
Lucky for us, she shared some of her favorite drills that she uses to improve her ball handling skills and the benefits each drill provides.
Drill #1 – Improve Your Handles
This drill focuses on handling the ball quick with a pop-up defender in place. The defender or pad is used to give you less space to work so you become more efficient with the ball. This also helps you learn how to retreat out of your moves and then go back into them quickly. The dribble move Jaliyah is working on here is out, through the legs, behind the back, snatch behind the legs, but the drill can be used with any dribble combination.
Drill #2 – Improve Your Strength and Control
The point of this drill is to work your hands and build strength in your fingertips while working on controlling the ball with precision. Jaliyah uses the POWERHANDZ Anti Grip Weighted Gloves to give her hand muscles a little extra resistance. The key to this drill is to focus on staying low and moving your feet as fast as possible when going from cone to cone.
Jaliyah works tirelessly to perfect her craft, so she needs the best gear in the game to keep up with her work ethic. Check out her top basketball product picks here or visit eastbay.com