Taber Spani Shoots For Roster Spot At 2009 Women's U19 World Championship Trials
May 16, 2009 - Colorado Springs, Colo.
You could say that Taber Spani was destined for athletic greatness. Her father, older sister, grandfather, two uncles, an aunt and four cousins have all competed at the collegiate level. It may come as no surprise then that Spani is among the 27 athletes competing for a spot on the 12-member roster of the 2009 USA Women's U19 World Championship Team this weekend at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. If it weren't for her dad, however, she might not be playing basketball at all.
-I would have played football, but my Dad wouldn't let me," said Taber.
Who could blame her? Her father, Gary Spani, is perhaps the greatest linebacker to ever play for the Kansas City Chiefs. He was inducted into their hall of fame in 2003, and is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame as well. Taber's grandfather, Frosty Westering, is also a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and her sister Shalin plays basketball at Kansas State.
Taber said once she found out that football was off limits for her, she quickly found a sport that suited her.
-Basketball took over my heart," said Spani. -Basketball was my first love."
Spani has followed the family tradition of athletic excellence on the basketball court. She was a 2009 WBCA All-American, a 2009 Parade All-America second team member and a 2009 McDonald's High School All-American. Yet even with all the family history and accolades of her own, this experience with USA Basketball is particularly special to her.
-You're so completely honored and privileged to wear the colors of your nation, and to even get the chance to tryout I really feel blessed and honored," said Taber. -To be able to be here and see the Olympic Training Center and just to be alongside all these great athletes, I'm really excited and overjoyed."
This fall Spani will attend the University of Tennessee to play under legendary coach Pat Summitt, who was the head coach of the 1984 U.S. Olympic Team. Competing with the best athletes in the country this week will be great preparation for Spani, and if she makes the team, she will undoubtedly be a step ahead coming into Tennessee as a freshman.
-Getting the preparation under all these college coaches, and the magnitude of USA Basketball is going to really prepare me," said Spani. -Playing alongside all these great athletes, getting to watch them and learn from them and play with and against them, I'm hoping will really help me going into the fall."
Although her dad didn't let her play football, he did influence Taber in the way she competes. The linebacker's mentality, as Spani puts it, is to go out and compete, have fun and lay everything out on the line.
-Whatever happens, happens," said Spani. -But I'm going to leave everything I have here."