Staff Photo: John Bohn Sierra Menzies (23) of Mill Creek drives the ball past Peachtree Ridge's Justina Young (10) during Friday's game.
Back in September, Sierra Menzies made her mind up.
The Mill Creek senior, a dedicated basketball player for years, decided she didn't want to play the sport in college. She had offers from college programs, but chose to pass those basketball scholarships up.
"After I decided not to play basketball in college, my parents were probably stressing a little bit (about tuition)," Menzies joked.
No need to worry, as it turned out.
Menzies has spent much of her senior year racking up scholarship money for her college education. Her 3.97 GPA, which puts her in the top 100 of the Hawks' 700-plus seniors, is plenty good enough for Georgia's HOPE Scholarship.
But she also earned even more scholarships -- the Vincent J. Dooley Award and Scholarship for charter, teamwork and citizenship, the Naismith Awards Flourish Scholarship, the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Scholarship, the Coca-Cola Georgia Tech Club Scholarship, the Gwinnett Georgia Tech Alumni Scholarship, the Julian and Jan Hester Memorial Scholarship and the Georgia Tech Faculty Merit Scholarship.
The latter scholarship, good for $8,000, was a big one. The starting point guard even skipped a Mill Creek playoff game to interview for it, part of the work she put in to win her scholarships.
"It was difficult, but I knew in the end it would be worth it," she said.
Menzies will use all of the money to major in business administration/operations management at Georgia Tech, which was a better fit for her academically than the basketball schools that were recruiting her.
It's refreshing to see a decision like that, when so many of Menzies' peers pursue colleges based too heavily on the sports programs. She wasn't about to attend a college that didn't suit her academically, so basketball took a backseat to classwork.
"I wanted to go to a stronger academic school and I wanted to see what it feels like to be a normal student," the four-year varsity starter said.
Some people have asked Menzies if she plans to join Tech's women's basketball team as a walk-on. As of now, she has no such plans for that.
Instead, she will focus on the point of college in the first place, her education. Not that she'll give up basketball entirely.
"As long as I continue to play intramurals or play basketball for fun in college, I'll be OK," Menzies said. "But if I just gave it up completely, I don't think I could do that. I'd miss it too much."
All kidding aside, Menzies said her parents backed her decision as well.
"They were definitely supportive of it," she said. "They knew I'd be happier this way."
Will Hammock can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Thursdays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/willhammock. For Hammock's blog, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/willsworld.