Story and photos by Megan Vincent
Nicknamed the “Fire-ball,” Aubrey Anderson is a 5-foot-2-inch senior for the Desert Hills High girls basketball team. With a fierce competitive streak and a positive attitude, Aubrey relishes every chance she gets to play the sport she loves.
Aubrey thrives on basketball and the opportunity it brings to increase skills and develop lasting friendships. Although she is comparatively short for the sport, her height doesn’t stop her from competing fiercely in the game.
“People tell you that you can’t do it, but you can do anything you set your mind to,” Aubrey said, showing her streak of determination as she explained the process she used to overcome the negative comments. “My dad is 5 feet, 7 inches. He’s not a tall man, but he’s always taught me how to work hard, as it pays off when you’re having fun playing the game. It’s really something I’m trying to emulate.”
Aubrey has been playing basketball since she was young, the tradition of the sport passing down from her grandpa to her dad and continuing on to her.
“We all wear the number five…it’s like our thing,” she said.
Aubrey constantly found herself observing her dad and grandpa playing basketball, whether at the local gym or on a recreational team, and she was there constantly watching and cheering on her family. And as she watched, she grew to love the sport.
“Something clicked. I wanted to be like them. I wanted to be as good as them,” Aubrey said, smiling as she fingered her jersey. She began training with her dad when playing for their small junior team, the Raiders.
“I was average height back then, but as the years progressed, everyone else began to grow and I didn’t.” Aubrey said with a shrug. “I just thought it was funny how I was shorter, but I never thought of it as a disadvantage, just a unique gift I had to bring to the court and my teammates. If anything, it gives me character.”
Considered the “glue” of the team, Aubrey draws her fellow athletes together, and helps encourage the girls to achieve their highest potential by always remaining a positive influence, whether at practice or during games.
“I love our girls,” Aubrey said. “Seniors, juniors, sophomores and even the little freshmen—I love them all.”
Aubrey can empathize with the other girls on the team in the difficulties of trying to juggle school work with after-school practices every day, as well as still having time for family and friends. She believes the difficulties are worth it, and that through time management, schooling and basketball can fit comfortably into anyone’s schedule. She also believes that basketball has the ability to shape an athlete’s character and increase their positive outlook on life.
“The challenges you face in basketball help you learn how to tackle the challenges of life,” Aubrey said, pointing out how keeping the girls encouraged and motivated always improves their playing skill on the court. “Some of the younger girls are so strong because of their competitive spirit. I really admire them for that.”
Aubrey said she learned the most from playing with the older girls on the team when she was a sophomore. She explained how their playing influenced her to achieve her best.
“Learning how to play basketball from the ‘greats’ was amazing,” Aubrey said. “They were always there to help out us younger girls with different techniques and drills.”
She smiled, fondly recalling how incredible it was to be on the team when the girls took state during 2014.
“Taking state that year was pretty insane,” Aubrey said. “Our coaches always tell us to cherish the moment because when you look back, you’re not going to remember the exact calls the refs made, but you will remember the memories and the feelings you felt during those moments.”
“It’s moments like that,” she said, “that make basketball worth it.”
Desert Hills High senior Megan Vincent wrote this story as part of the Preps Utah student journalism program, powered by Bank of American Fork, which will award two of our published student journalists college scholarships at the end of the school year.