Despite a remarkable senior year, Wilbraham & Monson Academy Girls' Basketball player A.J. Washington '19 endured a long and frustrating college process.
Interestingly, that process eventually landed her in her own backyard.
A.J. signed her National Letter of Intent to attend and play basketball at American International College in her hometown of Springfield, Massachusetts. The senior guard held her signing April 19 at the Springfield Boys & Girls Club on Carew Street, where A.J. learned to play basketball.
A.J. finished her career at WMA as a 1,000-point scorer and helped the Titans to the New England Class C playoffs in both of her years at the Academy.
A.J. on her college process: "Throughout the season I thought about that (signing) day a lot. It was a rough process. I feel my overnight at AIC was really where I felt the most comfortable, which was ironic because I was home. When the coach offered me (a scholarship) in her office that was one of the best feelings I had all season. That offer, I felt accomplished. I worked for it. Someone finally saw me and accepted me for my height and what I do and didn't want to change me."
A.J. on how she felt after she officially signed her NLI: "After I signed I thought, 'Wow it's really done. I can finally stop stressing.' My senior year was more stressing over college than enjoying senior year, so signing was a feeling of relief."
A.J. on attending WMA: "I think WMA helped get me into AIC. I got a lot of academic money based on what I did at WMA. Stepping on the campus at WMA, I felt this was where I needed to be; when I went to AIC I got the same feeling."
Coach Durelle Brown on A.J.: A.J. makes you know that she is there. She is small in stature, but in no other way. She is loud and boisterous in practices and games, leading her squad. She plays much bigger than her 5-foot-2-inch frame. She is willing to guard anyone on the floor, whether 5-feet or 6-foot-5-inches. A.J. epitomizes our mantra, 'It's An Attitude.' When I thought of this mantra, words that describe our culture and style of play, A.J. personifies it. She has an amazing in-your-face attitude when she plays. Her intensity, her passion, her feistiness, her competitiveness, and just her desire and/or unwillingness to allow anyone to outwork her - it's her attitude. Through her work ethic, and the chip on her shoulder, she solidified herself as a college basketball player. With trust in me, belief in our system and her immense selflessness with her teammates, A.J. became a star here and created a lasting legacy."