In basketball as well as any other sport, teamwork is a must for success. A key ingredient to athletes combining their skills for victory is communication, on and off the court. For Cambri Pawpa, a sophomore at Wagoner High School, carrying out the game plan includes understanding her coach’s expectations; something that starts at home whenever mom and daughter exchange thoughts.
“When we get home after practice or games we throw hands,” winked the 5-foot-7 Lady Bulldogs point guard. “Not really, just kidding, but we think the same way, so it’s become easier as I got older. But yes, we have moments, where I’d like to throw a ball at her.”
Cambri’s mom, Randi Pawpa is the head girls basketball coach and she shares her daughter’s thoughts regarding the coach/player mother/daughter relationship.
“Truthfully it ain’t always pretty! We’ve had some good battles with each other,” the coach confirmed. “We’ve been doing this now since she was in the 5th grade, being coached by me. She finally learned about seventh grade, to separate “Mom” from “Coach Pawpa” during the games.”
Known to her teammates as “CamBam”, Pawpa has also learned to accept the mispronounciation of her last name as common place.
“Most of the time, they’ll say “Pawpaw” and that just makes me laugh, but I’ve gotten used to explaining my name to everyone,” Cambri explained while sounding out the correct way to say her name, Paw-pay. “Mom…uh, coach usually let’s the announcer know how it’s pronounced.”
The Lady Bulldogs floor general wears the jersey number 33 for a couple of reasons.
“I wear number 33 because it’s my favorite player’s number in the WNBA, Katie Lou Samuelson, who also played at UCONN and won a National Championship,” said Cambri. “It’s also Larry Bird’s number another one of my favorite players and also my mom’s favorite player.”
Described as athletic, funny and laid back, she welcomes the challenges of her position in the starting lineup to help her team earn victories.
“This year’s team plays really well together. We have good team chemistry, we share the ball well. We are good friends off the court and we have the same goal,” said Pawpa. “I just try to put my teammates in the right positions so as a group we play and win as one.”
The Lady Bulldogs goals are to change the future, one practice one game at time. For Cambri Pawpa it’s following the encouraging words of advice that she applies on and off the court.
“Dream and achieve, but first you gotta work for it.”