In addition to her school work, basketball is everything for 17-year-old Mikaela Arista.
It’s everything to me, it’s my passion in my life,” says the Alisal High School junior. “It’s been a huge support system for me and has helped me in all aspects of my life.”
Mikael started playing basketball when she was only 5 years old, encouraged by her basketball-loving parents. She’s been playing with the Gil Basketball Academy since the second grade and made the Alisal varsity team as a freshman.
She says GBA taught her all the fundamentals of the game, but also helped her develop her basketball IQ — the game play, strategy and other aspects beyond passing and dribbling.
Playing basketball also helped her develop life skills, confidence, communication, the importance of discipline and teamwork.
“It really helped me succeed in school and do well socially,” says Mikaela, who won the Alisal team MVP award as both a freshman and sophomore.
She hopes to continue playing basketball after high school and hopes her high level of play her senior year will draw the attention of some college coaches.
“That’s the goal right now, to expose myself to schools and open up opportunities after high school,” she says, adding, to keep honing her skills, “I try to get on court as much as I can.”
At 5-foot-8-inches tall, she plays small forward on her teams and considers herself an offensive force as well as a good defender. She also plays tennis and swims competitively at Alisal.
“I consider myself a versatile player, I do a little bit of everything,” she says. She likes the excitement of being on the basketball court, working as a team and the intensity of the game.
In college she hopes to study biology and other sciences with the goal of becoming a physician’s assistant and perhaps one day, after her playing days are over, to come back to the community as a coach.
“I’ve spent so many years playing basketball, I don’t know where I’d be without it.”