Lynetta Kizer Sheds Her Youth
Standing 6-4, Lynetta Kizer is hard to overlook. And with her size and athleticism, it's no surprise the Woodbridge, Va., native earned herself a spot on the 2008 USA Basketball Women's U18 National Team. One of 12 team members selected from 34 U.S. hopefuls after trials in June, Kizer and her USA teammates are now in Washington, D.C., preparing for the 2008 FIBA Americas U18 Championship, which will be contested July 23-27 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
While the USA U18 Women began practicing just eight days ago, Kizer says her personal journey to make this U.S. team began when she decided it was time to slim down and speed up.
'My biggest motivator to get in better shape was to start getting ready for college and playing in the ACC,' Kizer said. 'I called my coach (at Maryland) and told her I wanted to drop the weight. I asked for a meal plan and an exercise plan. It basically consisted of exercising for 30 minutes a day. I couldn't have more than two breads per day. Lots of protein, juice and water. Me and my coach would lift weights, and then we would head out to the track, run bleachers and sprints.'
So, when the invitation to attend USA Basketball's U18 trials arrived in the mail, Kizer said it reaffirmed her commitment to her fitness routine and served as motivation.
'I pushed myself even harder when I received the invitation to come here. It's been about six months since I first started, and I have been pushing myself the whole time.'
Though slimmer, by about 30 pounds, and in better condition, Kizer admitted the transition from her routine in Virginia to practices led by college coaches was a challenge. The USA U18 Women are led by Carol Owens of Northern Illinois University, with Bill Fennelly of Iowa State University and Terri Mitchell of Marquette University serving as assistant coaches.
'The two-a-day practices have been hard. We're getting better at it. In the beginning our effort was lacking, but we are starting to get better as we continue to push ourselves through each day of practice.
'In the beginning we were kind of dragging. We would do really well in the first hour of practice and in the last hour we were slow. Now we are to the point where we can pick up the whole practice.'
And though the physical aspect of playing for USA Basketball is demanding, Kizer says it's not the toughest part.
'The mental aspect has been the greatest challenge. You just have to tell yourself that you can get through it.'
Headed to the University of Maryland in the fall, there is a lot more basketball in Kizer's future, who says this experience will definitely help next year in college. Talented enough to have several options for her future, Kizer says Maryland just felt right.
'They didn't really hassle me during the recruiting process. They gave me my space. And they were one of the first schools that contacted me, so they've seen me grow through the whole process. And the players too. The players there are great. I just bonded well with everybody there.'
Though just a lowly freshman in a few months, Kizer undoubtedly will have the support of Maryland fans. After all, at nearby Potomac High School (Woodbridge, Va.) she started in all 100 games played in her four varsity seasons. The school's all-time leading scorer with 1,885 points, she averaged 20.6 points per game as a senior, along with 12.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 3.0 steals and 3.5 blocks.
With just weeks remaining before she arrives on campus, Kizer says she already has the support of her future Terrapin teammates, including Marissa Coleman, who owns three USA Basketball gold medals.
'Marissa just told me that I had to work hard. She said that's the biggest part of it. So, I'm working hard on becoming a better rebounder. I really won't have to do much scoring next year with Marissa, Kristi Toliver and Marah Strickland, just rebound the ball for them.'
And while Kizer said playing for USA Basketball will have her in shape when she reports to school, she wants a gold-medal reputation to follow as well.
'Bringing back a gold medal will help people know who I am. They'll know I was a part of a winning team, and I did my job to help. Instead of me just coming in under the radar, people will respect that I was willing to work hard during the summer.'