Signing with A & M new beginning for Azonya Austin


courtesy of Azonya Austin

NC senior Azonya Austin signed with Alabama A&M on November 13, at a ceremony in the arena, surrounded by family, friends, and supporters. After playing NC basketball for the entirety of her career, Austin prepares for the transition from high school to college and reflects on what high school ball taught her. “It’s going to be a whole different atmosphere. College [basketball] is ten times harder than high school [basketball]. In high school, you just go to school go to practice and go home… [in college] my whole day will revolve around basketball, and on top of that, I have to be a student-athlete.”

Erin Grier, Archives Editor

In order to juggle studies, practices, and their social lives, student-athletes must maintain a certain level of resilience and sacrifice time, money, and energy to fully dedicate themselves to their passion. The possibility of continuing to play the sport that they love while simultaneously receiving a free college education motivates these driven high schoolers.

NC senior varsity basketball player Azonya Austin recently saw her hard work over the last 3 years pay off when she accepted a basketball scholarship from Alabama A&M on Wednesday, November 13. According to Austin, who breathes, eats and sleeps basketball, achieving one’s goals requires patience and focus. 

“I would describe Azonya as a competitor.  She works hard to be the best player and best teammate she can be.  She plays with a lot of toughness, but she combines that toughness with a tremendous amount of skill,” NC girls’ basketball head coach, John Speeney,  said.

After watching her older brothers play, Austin quickly developed her own passion for basketball and began playing in the first grade. 

“I wanted to try out sports, and I saw my brothers playing all the time at the basketball courts because they would babysit me and I would have to go with them. So I tried out basketball and cheerleading, but I was like, ‘I’m not really a cheerleader’, so I just stuck with basketball,” said Austin. 

Austin joined the varsity team at NC as a freshman after participating in summer programs and playing for the junior Warriors since the 6th grade. She became captain of the varsity team two years ago.  Alabama A&M’s interest in her began in her freshman year.

“It was our state game at North Cobb and we played Colquitt, and they came to watch Colquitt, but then they liked me so they stayed in contact with me. They kept coming to my games and watching me play and talking to Coach Speeney. They showed loyalty throughout the whole process,” said Austin.

Speeney played an integral role in helping Austin procure offers and guiding her in making decisions regarding the next level of her career.  

“He has supported me for so long. He helped me a lot with Alabama A&M by sending them film… Coach Speeney really helps his players and he cares for us,” Austin said.

When the time came to choose a school, Austin immediately knew that choosing Alabama A&M would lead to the strengthening of her skills and growth as an athlete. 

“On my unofficial visit, I fell in love with the campus. I visited in June, and then they offered me maybe a week after. Once they offered me, I knew that it was the only school I wanted to go to,” Austin said. 

Despite her excitement to begin this next chapter of her life, Austin admits she will miss her teammates and the special bond they created. Breaking the long-standing routine created with her team might cause difficulties, but she looks forward to developing a new rhythm on the court. 

“I’ll miss my friends…I’ve played at North Cobb since I was in third grade, this is all I know. It’s weird going out of state and playing with a whole new group of people. I’m gonna miss North Cobb as a whole,” said Austin. 

Although her life already revolves around basketball, Austin knows that in college, the time she devotes to her sport will increase significantly.  She believes her experiences at NC have prepared her for any challenges that college ball may bring. 

“I believe colleges look for athletes who are incredibly skilled in their sport but also look for individuals with high character. Colleges want hard-working competitors who not only want to succeed on the playing field/court but also want to be successful in the classroom and in life,” Speeney said.