It was a twist of fate that led sophomore Kori Rainwater to be part of a state finals basketball team and to find a new sport to fall in love with.
“Growing up I played softball and basketball, but softball was my first sport until the summer of seventh grade. I tried out for and made an AAU basketball team and found I really liked the competition. Eventually I had to choose between summer softball or basketball, and I chose basketball, but I still planned to play softball and basketball my freshman year at Sequoyah,” said Rainwater. “But then they cancelled all of their sports for a year, so I came to Tahlequah. I got here late and they didn’t have a place for me on the softball team and I didn’t want to waste the fall sports season, so an acquaintance got me to try volleyball. I ended up loving it and since I hadn’t played softball for a while anyway, I decided to stick with volleyball. I’m a middle blocker so all of the jumping and blocking really helps me with my basketball as well.”
In her first year as a Lady Tiger cager, Kori had modest goals. But then came a transitional moment for her.
“My original goal coming out of middle school was just to make the varsity squad-to get a uniform. The girls were all very helpful and I did make the varsity squad playing off the bench. I finally got my first start in a December game against Coweta, and I had 19 points and 14 rebounds. Probably my biggest thrill was in the state semifinals against Piedmont when I had 12 points and 11 rebounds,” said Rainwater who also throws the discus for the Tiger track team.
Coach David Qualls is a big fan of Kori’s.
“She’s a gifted athlete and a hard-nosed player,” said Qualls. “She has great body control inside and this year she’s become more patient, and her shooting touch is better.”
As Tahlequah moves up to play 6A competition this year, Rainwater has her goals clearly set.
“Personally, I want to expand my game beyond the paint this year and become a better outside shooter and I want to do everything I can to help my team make it to state especially now that we’re in 6A.”
And with four starters and nine of the top 10 players returning from last year’s state team, the Lady Tigers seem up to the challenge.