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BASA STAFF: What's up Karla?
Karla: Not too much. Just trying to relax a little…
BASA STAFF: So what have you been up to since the BASA World Tournament?
Karla: A lot of work and school!!! I have also been traveling a little bit…trying to take full advantage of my weekends and vacations.
Vacationing with friends and being an Ambassador for BASA in Punta Cana
BASA STAFF: I have to ask. We have had several former college and/or professional basketball, baseball, football and track stars here in BASA. But professional cheerleader? I must say you are the first that I have heard. Help explain the transition to competitive softball for you.
Karla: Actually, this is not a transition. I have competed in both sports since the age of 6. I took a hiatus from softball in order to cheer (Atlanta Falcons), and I returned to playing after ending my cheerleading career.
BASA STAFF: How long did you cheer for the Atlanta Falcons?
Karla: 4 seasons.
BASA STAFF: Did you cheer in college as well?
Karla: Of course I did! I cheered for Tennessee State University’s Big Blue Tigers and, thankfully, it paid part of my tuition. I wanted to play softball as well, but TSU did not have a team and I did not know or learn enough about Nashville to find a team.
Posing with fellow TSU alum JB#69 of Godfather
BASA STAFF: Do you miss cheering and would you go back if it meant giving up softball?
Karla: Is this a trick question? I miss cheering a lot and I would definitely go back…even if it meant giving up softball…L I am partial to cheerleading for a number of reasons: I have seen it evolve and become recognized as a true sport, it allows for a creative outlet through choreography and dance, and it provides great conditioning exercise-strength and skill building, toning and flexibility. Men and women now receive full scholarships to major universities for cheerleading. I will be involved in both sports for as long as I am able, and hopefully, I won’t have to choose between them.
BASA STAFF: How did you get into softball?
Karla: Growing up, I wanted to do whatever my brother did. He played football and since I couldn’t play, I cheered for his team. When he began playing baseball, my mom had to let me play softball. In one of my first years playing, I turned an unassisted triple play. From that point, I was hooked. I played for the same coach for about 10 years and he was very instrumental in my skill development.
Softball and Cheerleading at an early age.
BASA STAFF: LIA has made some serious strides in recent years in being considered one of the top women's teams on the circuit. How long have you ladies been together?
Karla: About 6 years (don’t quote me). Prior to forming LIA, a few of the ladies (on LIA) and I played together with another team out of Atlanta-the Marietta Expos. We have a few new faces this year, but the core group of ladies hasn’t changed.
BASA STAFF: Your coach is one of the more vocal coaches on the circuit. Is he of the Bobby Knight type where, on the outside looking in, he seems to be a guy no one wants to play for, but current and former players can't say enough nice things about him?
Karla: I don’t know what it looks like from the outside. However, looking from the inside, I can say that he is vocal. He does have a harsh bark but, like many others on the circuit, he is a former professional athlete (baseball) and he knows the fundamentals of the game. By nature, he is very competitive and, like any coach, he wants us to always play our best game. He becomes vocal when we lose because we don’t play hard. Personally, I enjoy playing for him because he always stresses playing fundamental ball, and that is what my early softball coaches stressed.
BASA STAFF: Does LIA have a rival that you always look forward to playing?
Karla: I consider every team on the field, competitive or otherwise, to be a rival.
BASA STAFF: Softball is a family affair for you isn't it?
Karla: I can’t get anything by you! Fortunately, my family has always been supportive of me. It has been this way since I began competing years ago. And you know that they didn’t miss a single Falcons game either. I have to make sure that my mom has a copy of our schedule so that she can request leave from work!!! If she misses a tournament, I have to provide play-by-play updates, which can take another 2 days…I’m sure that you will agree that it is so much easier to bring her along…J
BASA STAFF: What are some of your other hobbies besides playing softball.
Karla: Just as I enjoy competing in sports, I love to watch them. Baseball, football, boxing…you name it and I will watch it! I also love to travel, choreograph dance routines and, of course, shop!!! I definitely have a shoe fetish!
BASA STAFF: What do you do professionally?
Karla: I am a Middle School Guidance Counselor and, apparently, a career student. I completed my Master’s degree last year and I will begin a Specialist in Education program next month. And, if that’s not enough, I am also the cheerleading coach at my middle school.
BASA STAFF: Give us your thoughts on BASA as it stands today.
Karla: BASA is still a relatively new organization. As with any new organization, there are obstacles that have to be overcome. I think that we are experiencing our growing pains and soon, things should begin to smooth out. BASA has definitely helped to transform weekends into events. I no longer look forward to the weekend just to play a game. The tournaments have also created a larger spectator base for the organization- people don’t just come to play, some come only to watch. And, it doesn’t hurt that we now have celebrity support. Everyone associated with the organization, players, coaches, umpires, etc., must be willing to grow as well in order for the organization to be a success.
BASA STAFF: If you could make any changes to BASA, what would they be?
Karla: I think that the time has come for our very own reality TV show-Extreme Makeover “Umpire Edition.” Fortunately, all of my (LIA) experiences haven’t been bad, but BASA needs to do an extensive search to find impartial umpires. When an umpire has a relationship or a vested interest in a team, the match is not fair. If teams don’t think that they can get a fair shake, they will no longer support the organization. Over the last two years, I have seen teams having more conflict with the umpires and that tells me that something is definitely wrong.
BASA STAFF: That just about wraps it up. Any shout outs?
Karla: First and foremost, thanks to God; to my family-my mom, my brother and my sister, Karen-thanks for allowing me to drag you around this country to chase a little, white ball; Jerome and LIA-let’s keep working together and playing as a team-great teams aren’t built overnight; Jennifer-we all prayed you through and I am so thankful that you are growing stronger everyday! God is good and you are a testament to His work! We saved you a spot so whenever you are ready, come on back! Clay, thanks for the interview…I apologize for being difficult…please let go of my arm now! To the BASA family, best wishes for a healthy, winning season!