Paving Their Own Way

For Kamorae Arnold and NuNu Agara the view couldn’t be more perfect. In a sport where warm climate dominates year round, with daily packed courts, sun stained rusted hoops, nets with little nylon left, it’s never hard to find a “run”’or game. Now come to the upper Midwest, where the cool air chills the core of bones for 8 months, basketball courts left abandoned until next spring, and competitive games are hard to come by. The closest you can get is watching on your television screen. Are there gyms? Well yes, but games aren’t as popular here taking a backseat to hockey and football in our dear ole’ upper Midwest. But not today, today we see a game that is starting to flourish and enrich itself as its soil that feeds America and the hops that sits us down and puts us out for the count.

With hopes that basketball in the Upper Midwest will someday be at the country’s forefronts in all areas and complexions of the game, for now we are pleased with being relevant with the rest of the world.

The upper Midwest (MN, WI, ND, SD, IA) has always had a fair amount of talent come and go through the basketball ranks. Some landing at State Universities, others landing scholarships at smaller institutions. There’s no argument there. But lately in recent years (2017-) the amount of athletes who have come and gone to division 1 levels and even higher institutes has vastly exceeded the amount of the past.

Players today in more recent years has used social media platforms, self-networking tools, word of mouth, and have used these skills to further enhance their basketball experiences by simply self promoting themselves. Not doing it like back in the day when going with the norm of being confined in one space, with one team, who’s schedule only goes as far as their mediocre talent and wallets get them, they fall far off from the chances at competing at the top levels, in hopes of gaining a division 1 scholarship because the exposure isn’t there. So in terms by navigating like they’re their own boss, with fellowship, they’ve become more of a commodity or want for other programs, who wouldn’t have known of them in the first place along with the other sports media outlets that have pushed their name out there. What this does is even the playing field for players in rural communities who’s lack exposure, never playing against kids from other cities and states, having to play with other area kids. For players in the inner cities who lack the financial freedom of other kids, but not talent, it’s placing them in bigger areas where talent flows fluently because of what they have been able to do through social and media outlets.

So a kid lets say from Germantown, Wisconsin whose natural talent exceeds her town’s talent level may play with teams and players from neighboring states’ such as Illionis, Minnesota showcasing her talent on a higher stage, which simply wouldn’t have been seen had she played with her hometown team. Well, this kid becomes an McDonald’s All-American, Parade All-‘American top ESPN player etc……. Not because of what playing with the Illionis’ team did, but through self promoting on social media platforms, outlets (media) and word of mouth of how she was able to showcase her talent. If we don’t get exposure from someone from higher ups, helping us propel to higher we won’t be seen. It’s purposely set up that way. Not in all, but in the upper Midwest. Money grants accessibilities, But talent packs stadiums.

The demographics are reversed in states such as Texas which is sports hub where minorities thrive year round, gaining scholarships by the dozens. The financial freedoms may be the same for some inner city kids, but the talent level is greater and for that, exposure is at its best. It’s a harsh reality that so many kids have equal talent, but because of disparities both racial and economically we will only witness a few who have “Gotten through”. Why do we have to outsource to other places, to play just to say the same thing we’ve already said? Well ask your local top programs who don’t care how talented you are, if your not of their ethnical background and not putting money in his or her pocket.

This year alone demographically we’ve been fortunate to witness greatness in the making with not just one but two USA Jr. Olympians from the upper Midwest. A Super-Dynamic, Flamboyant Point Guard, with a ton of showmanship in University Of Connecticut commit Kamorae ‘KK’ Arnold. And secondly, a Versatile All-Around, Point Forward, who can score at different levels on the floor Sunaja “NuNu” Agara. Both of these young ladies has helped changed the blueprint demographically of where and how athletes are reached and discovered from social media clips and highlights, to word of mouth, surely making relevance out of two states’ that have never had any females of minority represent the USA on a worldly stage in past. Not to say some weren’t good enough, but having some now does show growth and promise.

  • Kamorea “KK” Arnold
  • USA Junior Olympian
  • McDonald’s All-American
  • 2023 Wisconsin Miss Basketball
  • Espn Top 100 #6 player
  • Furture UConn Husky
  • Sunaja Agara
  • USA Junior Olympian
  • High School All-America
  • Minnesota Miss Basketball Finalist
  • Epsn Top 100 #26
  • Future Standford Cardinal