Taelene Fowler certainly knows about strange turns in life.
Socorro’s star senior wing, Fowler had few options when it came to playing either basketball or volleyball at the next level.
That is until she recently played in the New Mexico All-Star Game for graduating seniors in Melrose. Her play caught the eye of Fowler’s coach, Peñasco’s Mandy Montoya, who encouraged her to play in an upcoming showcase tournament in Las Cruces.
And that led to a recruit from Edmonds College being impressed with Fowler’s play. She called her coach, who got in contact with Fowler, then after seeing video, she was offered a full-ride scholarship.
“I want to get out and explore the world and if it’s free, I might as well,” said Fowler, who signed her letter of intent Tuesday.
Socorro girls basketball coach Juan Alvarado knew the talent Fowler possessed.
It just took a while for others to see the light.
Now she’ll be going to Edmonds, a junior college in Lynnwood, Washington, just north of Seattle, with plans to study physical occupational therapy and business. And she’s already making plans for seeking a four-year school to finish her degree and continue playing basketball.
Fowler scored 27 points in her high school finale, the state quarterfinal game against Santa Fe Indian School in March.
It was about time somebody gave her a serious look, said Alvarado, who had no idea it would happen in a place like Melrose.
“To be honest, I am not surprised,” he said. “I knew that somebody had to pick her up. They were losing out on such a great talent. I wish it was somebody locally, but the institutions here always go to the outside. But a window opened for her and she took advantage of that and I’m very proud of her.”
While a prolific scorer who averaged 16.5 points and 7.2 rebounds last season, it was her prowess on the defensive end that Alvarado truly appreciated.
“What makes her unique is her knowledge is so strong,” Alvarado said. “She pre-anticipates what’s going to happen. On blocking a shot, she was very successful at that. Maybe a couple of times that she’d get called for foul.”
And when Socorro stepped up the pressure, Fowler was the trigger.
“Anytime we do the press, she would read that offense of the opponent’s quickly and she would go to the perfect spot to intercept those passes,” Alvarado said.
In evaluating her game, Fowler arrived at the same conclusion.
“I’m just able to see and be one step ahead,” she said. “Kind of knowing what’s going to happen next. Just being a basketball player, you have to stay on your toes at all times because anything can happen and you have to be ready for it. You have to be looking at footwork, their eyes, their attitude, just body language really.”
Fowler is Alvardo’s first Warriors player to receive an athletic scholarship and that should be a good thing for the program moving forward.
“Hopefully the other athletes or the younger generations can see this,” he said. “Anything can be accomplished. As long as you put in the time and have a strong work ethic to accomplish those goals and it can come. Being patient and being coachable and being a role model for the rest of athletes.”
A 4.0 student who also works as a caregiver in the local nursing home her grandmother owns, Fowler knows going so far from Socorro will be a tough adjustment.
“It’s going to be a lot harder up there, being so far away from home,” she said. “A whole new team, different standards. I have to prepare myself more mentally.”