Dec. 19, 2001
Florida State women's basketball's April Traylor, a senior guard who hails from Martinsville, Indiana, went home for Christmas this week, but this time her teammates went with her. The FSU women's basketball team is in the Hoosier State and will play Indiana tonight at 7 p.m., at historic Assembly Hall in Bloomington. The Seminoles will face IUPUI in Indianapolis at 7 p.m. on Friday, December 21st before breaking for the holidays.
Traylor's dazzled the Florida State faithful for four years with her fearless play on the court. She's got more attitude than any other player in a Seminole uniform. And she's never seen a shot she didn't like, but thank goodness for that because she's one of the main reasons Florida State women's basketball has risen from the ashes to a respected and successful program. Now the folks of Indiana, where basketball means everything, will have a chance to see one of their greats, who got away.
"April's already proven to people at home that she was capable of taking on the challenge of building a program and being a big part of that," FSU Head Coach Sue Semrau said. "I don't think she's got a lot to prove, but I do think it's going to be very exciting for her.
"We wanted to honor April, by taking her home and having her play in front of her home folks, for all that she's done here at Florida State and for the courage it took to step out of a place like the Midwest where she could have gone just about anywhere and made a name for herself right there at home."
April is one of five girls born to Sam and Kay Traylor. Although there were no boys in the family, the Traylor household was still a very athletic and competitive one and they loved their basketball. Growing up in Indiana will do that to you.
"I first picked up a basketball when I was two," Traylor said. "I was dribbling two balls when I was two, and I actually started playing in second grade. I love basketball. That's why I'm still playing it. Sometimes it gets tiring because it weighs on your body and it weighs on your mind, but I do it because I love it."
Traylor went on to have a successful high school career, garnering Parade All-American honors as she led Martinsville to a No. 2 national ranking. She set eight school records and was runner-up for the 1998 Indiana Miss Basketball honors. So how did she end up at Florida State? When Semrau was an assistant coach at Wisconsin, she began recruiting Traylor, but April wanted to go somewhere warm. When Semrau took the job at Florida State, one of her first phone calls was from Traylor's high school coach and the rest is history. Upon her arrival at Florida State, Traylor knew things would be different. She was used to winning. Florida State was not. But that was just part of the challenge. It hasn't been easy for her, but it has been worth it.
"It's been really tough," Traylor said. "I've had some things that I didn't expect about college life in general. Probably the hardest thing was coming in and only winning seven games my freshman year and knowing that I didn't even lose seven games my entire high school career. I probably haven't lost seven games total since I was in sixth grade. That was probably the toughest thing. But, it's definitely been worth it."
At 8-2, the Seminoles are enjoying another solid start and Traylor is enjoying a different role. As one of three seniors, she's had to pick it up in the leadership department. Traylor is a vocal leader who says she's learned to set good examples and learned to be a leader.
"I've changed so much since my freshman year," Traylor said. "My maturity would probably be the number one thing. Back then, there were things that I didn't think were necessary or didn't know why we did them, but now I sit back and think of why we do things. Now I know the end result, before I even ask a question. I'm also doing different things, like I'm getting here early, having a good attitude and not showing my teammates if I get discouraged."
Her role has also changed on the court. FSU's leading scorer at 15.1 points per game last season, Traylor led the team in scoring nine times while scoring in double figures in 28 contests. This season, Traylor has scored in double figures in nine of 10 games, but has led the team in scoring just three times. She is currently second on the team in scoring at 15.4 points per game and second in field goal attempts. Last year, she was first in both categories.
"I have a lot of people around me who can do the same thing that I can do," Traylor said. "It honestly doesn't bother me at all that I am not leading the team in scoring. I'd much rather our team be ranked, win all of our games and accomplish all our goals rather than me being the leading scorer. This year, my goal is to excel on the defensive end. When I first got here, I felt like I had to do it all. Now I don't feel like that. I have so many people around me that can just do that for me so I can concentrate on other things."
Well, the city of Martinsville will be concentrating on April tonight. It's Martinsville community night at the Indiana-FSU game and April and former high school teammate Kristen Bodine, who plays for IU but is out for the season with a knee injury, will hold an autograph session following the game. On Thursday, the Seminoles, and members of the Indiana team, will conduct a clinic for Martinsville-area youth.
"Seeing everybody and having my family there is going to be great," Traylor said. "I am going to have to make myself get really focused and that's going to be tough. But the good thing is that I usually play well in front of my parents, so maybe I can put all that energy toward my game."