For Sophia Young, Faith is Key
The Silver Stars phenom draws comfort from belief.
by Ben York
Every player in the WNBA has their own unique way of preparing for competition. In some ways, it’s reflective of their off the court personality and values.
Some prefer listening to their favorite music or artist to get them hyped and pumped up. Others have specific, pre-game rituals that contain a precise amount of stages or steps. There are even some players who have to take a certain amount of shots from the same specified areas on the floor each night. No technique is better or worse than another – it’s just a matter of what works on an individual basis.
For Sophia Young of the San Antonio Silver Stars her method is simple and powerful at the same time – her steady faith in God.
Though, Young’s reliance on faith deals with much more than motivation; it’s the sole basis of her character. Not only is it vital for her as a person, she uses her unwavering faith to continually improve as a basketball player.
While the topic of religion and faith has gone through an enormous amount of scrutiny in the past couple of decades, there is a noticeable calmness and assuredness in Sophia’s belief that is almost serene. There’s no falseness or showmanship here – Young’s steadfast devotion to her faith is completely genuine. Perhaps more importantly, it’s her own faith; there isn’t an effort to critique others who might not share the exact same views or beliefs. Not only is it pleasant and inspiring, it brings a certain amount comfort to Young – allowing her to devote her time to a greater purpose.
“He is the center and the reason for my life,” said Young. “I always try to imagine my life without Jesus and it scares me to the core. I am nothing without my relationship with God. He is my life, my strength, my comforter, my hope and my very best friend.”
Coming to the United States as a foreign exchange student at the age of 15, Young quickly blossomed into a distinctive player in high school which led to a highly successful college career at Baylor University. After leading Baylor to a National Championship in 2005, Young was selected as the No. 4 pick in the 2006 WNBA draft by the Silver Stars.
Sophia wasted no time making a resounding impact for the organization earning a birth in the All-Star game as a rookie in 2006 and leading the Silver Stars to the WNBA Finals in 2007. Young has never shot less than 42 percent from the floor in a season and her efficiency rating of +17.00 is one of the best in the league today.
With the amount of success she’s earned at a young age, Sophia has always maintained a stoic presence about her. There is an instinctive type of intensity that exudes from Sophia on a consistent basis. She’s someone who has no problem sacrificing for the betterment of the team, gladly doing whatever the Silver Stars ask her to in order to put them in the best position to win. For Young, that mindset of working hard and devoting herself to the game is a conscious decision and one she takes very seriously.
“I pride myself on doing the job that I am getting paid for,” Young said. “I’ve always had a hard work type of mindset and this is something that I don’t ever want to lose.”
The drive to get better fuels Sophia on a daily basis. Currently in Turkey playing for Galatasaray, Young uses the off-season from the WNBA to work on things she feels need to be improved in her game.
“The season [in Turkey] has been interesting,” Young said. “We have had some ups and downs and we most definitely have room for improvement which we need. But like any player, I want to win a WNBA Championship – and I think that I have a lot more to learn as a basketball player. So any way that I can improve, I’m willing to work at it whether it is shooting, ball handling, passing, etc.”
No matter what happens in life for Sophia, the basis of her being will always stem from her faith. Young realizes and appreciates how blessed she is to be a WNBA player, and wants to encourage young women to shoot for their dreams just like she did. Clearly, Sophia understands her significant position as a role model for young women across the globe and vows to uphold her lofty virtues of living life with integrity and honor at all times. She has sponsored a child in Rwanda since her sophomore year at Baylor and had made it well known that she has a desire to open a shelter for abused girls someday.
“I believe that everyone has a passion – something that stirs their spirit to life,” Sophia said. “My passion is for kids, specifically girls, who have been abused in any form. I’ve read stories and talked to numerous girls about the things that they have gone though in their lives and it is beyond comprehension why bad things happen to innocent children. But that’s life and I want to do anything that I can to help these girls get out of these horrible situations. That’s where the shelter comes in. I have been blessed beyond what I could ever dream of. Giving someone the opportunity and helping someone achieve their goals will be enough satisfaction for me.”
This quiet, uncompromising confidence in Sophia has continually brought the Silver Stars composure during difficult situations and tense moments in games (as evidenced by her miraculous shot against the Sparks in 2008). Not coincidentally, that same self-confidence and poise is directly correlated with her enduring faith.