Sydney Saxton has lived all over the place. She grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee before moving to Atlanta, Georgia. From there she attended Arkansas Baptist College in Little Rock, Arkansas. Then she moved to Marshall to attend ETBU and play basketball, the sport that was part of her life at all her stops.
“When I was younger, I used to go up to this little community center in Tennessee and there was a boy named Rickey, he used to teach me how to play and then my cousin A.J., we used to always go back and forth at it,” Saxton said. “They really taught me how to play.
“I was the only girl who played on a boys team when I was 10 years old when we first moved to Georgia,” Saxton continued. “It was a little church league and I was the only girl and the boys used to be scared to guard me because they thought they were going to hurt me so it was easy to score.”
While at Stephenson High School, one year she was name the Most Improved Player. Another year she was earned Sixth Man of the Year honors before wrapping up her high school career, she came away with Defensive Player of the Year honors. Each year of her high school career was better than the previous in terms of how her team did.
“We did well,” she said of her high school teams. “We won state my senior year. My freshman year we made it to the Sweet 16. My sophomore year we made it to the Final Four and then junior year we made it all the way to the championship game and lost and then senior year, we won championship.”
The senior point guard is hopeful her time at ETBU will tell a similar story.
“To win conference again as a team,” she said when asked about her goals this season. “We’re going to make it to the national tournament and we’re going to try to win the national tournament but as a team, we’ve just got to come together and play together. To me, we’re better than last year and if we just play together, we have more weapons, we’re more athletic and we have new guards and new transfers. So if we put all that together and just keep one mindset and one goal then we can go far.”
Despite having several new faces on the team, Saxton said the Tigers started off the season on the same page.
“The team chemistry is good,” she said. “I didn’t really think it was going to be this good because the first game we came out passing like we had been playing together for three years. The first game really surprised me.”
When asked what her own biggest strengths are, Saxton said, “I’d say coming off pick and roll, finding Kayla (Bise), finding shooters.”
“Her playmaking abilities, she’s someone you can put the ball in her hands and you can trust her,” ETBU second-year head coach Rusty Rainbolt said.
“She has the ability to make the right decision most of the time. Sydney plays best in big games. She’s one of those who, in the biggest games we played last year, St. Thomas, UT Dallas, conference championship, she takes over.”
The Tigers are currently 9-1 overall and 3-1 in American Southwest Conference play. Saxton is shooting 50 percent from the field as she’s averaging 5.3 points and 3.5 rebounds per game and leads the team in total assists with 29.
In the classroom, Saxton is a criminal justice major.
“I plan to first go to the military and do police and security in either the Air Force or the Navy,” Saxton said. “I really enjoy watching cop shows, Law and Order SVU, CSI Miami, all of the CSIs. I like watching Criminal Minds, The First 48, those types of shows.”
When all said and done, Saxton hopes to have left a positive mark with her teammates.
“That I was a great leader, a great motivator, somebody that was always fun to be around, silly and just that loving person that they will never forget,” Saxton said when asked how she wanted to be remembered.
Until that point comes, she still has several games left of her senior year, including tonight’s game when ETBU plays host to LeTourneau.
“Just go out and be aggressive,” she said about playing tonight’s game. “Play good defense. Play together, that’s the main thing — play together. Play smart. We have to go out and execute on offense, just execute plays. Secondly, run out on transition, get rebounds and just play our game.”
Tonight’s game is slated for a 5:30 p.m. tipoff.