Steward beginning to shine for women’s basketball

Elias Albert, Staff Reporter

Sports seem to play an important role in the lives of many people. They can even influence the path that people take in their life.

This is no different for Eastern freshman guard Kayla Steward, who said she was exposed to the game of basketball from the beginning.

“My dad pretty much put a basketball next to me in my crib,” Steward said. “Ever since I was little it’s been what I’ve been around. It’s become a part of my life.”

After her early exposure to the game, Steward continued to develop her skill and ability Boylan Catholic High School in Rockford, Ill.

While there, she accumulated over 1,000 points in her career and received all-conference recognition. She actually played alongside current teammate freshman forward Halle Stull.

Steward also played volleyball while in high school, something she said she enjoyed almost as much as basketball.

Even though she had the basketball lifestyle from an early age, Steward said the adjustment to the college game has been a challenge, but she said she’s willing to face it.

“It’s a really big difference,” Steward said. “Everything’s a new experience now. The intensity and the pace are much different than what I was used to.”

So far this season, Steward has played in each of Eastern’s eight games. During those games, she has averaged 13 minutes per game and has gradually seen more action on the court.

Coach Debbie Black said she has like what she’s seen from Steward both in games and in practice.

“We knew what we were getting when we recruited Kayla (Steward),” Black said. “She’s starting to get it together and, she’s understand this level play more and more.”

Despite the adjustment on the court, Steward said everything else in the transition to Eastern has been considerably easy, thanks to the preparative approach that her high school had.

She currently studies business even though she’s also looked at biological science.

Steward said she has a good relationship with every member of the Eastern women’s basketball team, which she said it important.

“I’m close to everyone here,” Steward said. “We’re around each other a lot and it’s made us sort of a family.”

Steward has contributed to the team in the form of her five points per game, 18 of which came in a breakout effort against Western Illinois.

Black said she expects more of the same from Steward as the season and her career continues.

“She’s accepted the role and earned her place on this team,” Black said. “It’s about being active. Players need to make plays like getting rebounds and not making mistakes. We’re seeing that out of Kayla.”

Steward said Black has been a huge help in the collegiate transition for her and that she makes being on the team even more enjoyable.

“Coach Black is a fireball,” Steward said. “She’s really smart when it comes to basketball and she’s been in our shoes before. I love her as coach.”

As far as the remainder of the season is concerned, Steward said her goal is to continue to progress.

“The goal is to win games,” Steward said. “I know it’s still early and we all know we have a lot of potential. I want to make sure I play my best to help the team in any way I can.”


Elias Albert can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]