Athlete of the Week: Shirlena Bowles

(Editor’s note: Throughout the local high school sports season, Culpeper Times will again recognize an “Athlete of the Week” from one of the sports on a rotating basis. This week we feature girls basketball. At the end of the year the Times will select a male and female athlete at both Culpeper County and Eastern View high schools and recognize them as “Athlete of the Year” at their respective schools.)

Eastern View High School senior Shirlena Bowles enjoys a challenge.

Bowles, a point guard for the Cyclones girls basketball team, seeks to succeed at everything she does. Her leadership and work ethic make her the choice for Culpeper Times “Athlete of the Week” in girls basketball.

“I like to stand up and be a leader, to help people that are down,” said Bowles. “I try to bring them up. It’s a challenge, sometimes, being positive when things go down but I accept the challenge of building people up and staying positive even when I feel low.”

Bowles said she has played a wide variety of sports and this spring will be going out for tennis because of – no surprise – the challenge.

“Everything I do in sports I catch onto pretty fast,” Bowles said with confidence, not conceit. “Tennis is one sport that pushes me and I don’t like to fail.”

Unlike many of her peers who will go on to college after graduating high school this spring, Bowles has another goal.

“I plan to enlist in the Marine Corps because it’s more of a challenge (there’s that word again) than the other branches of the service.

“I’ve gotta think about the economy and being in the Marines will be not only a great experience, but it will pay for my college and help me grow as a person.”

Bowles said she enjoys “everything” about basketball and that it keeps her focused for school. Her favorite classroom discipline is English.

“Between school work and sports I don’t have much free time,” Bowles said. “When I do have some time I like to hang out with my family, especially my big sister, Cecilia. She’s 28 and just had a baby.”

Coach Mike McCombs said he has appreciated the leadership Bowles has shown, both on and off the court.

“This is her fourth year on varsity and her third year as a starter,” McCombs said. “She is much improved this year. She’s especially good at handling the ball and getting it to the right people at the right time.

“When a player has the ball, it’s easy to pull up for a shot but it’s not always the best shot. If Shirlena gets open, but sees a teammate who has a better shot she will pass. She’s unselfish and leads by example.”

NOTE: Culpeper County High School girls basketball coach Katie Shaw nominated junior point guard Caroline Shrewsberry.

“Caroline transferred in from Grymes last year and started for us ,” Shaw said. “She attends Governor’s School at Lord Fairfax Community College a half a day and then comes back here in the afternoon.

“She’s not only a leader in athletics – she’s a team co-captain — but she also is a leader in academics.”

Shrewsberry played field hockey last year, but didn’t go out this fall so she could get acclimated to the Governor’s School schedule.

Shaw said Shrewsberry and exchange student Celia Escalada alternate at the point guard position.

“It’s nice to have Celia,” Shaw said. “She and Caroline take some of the pressure off each other.”

Shaw said Shrewsberry sees the floor and usually makes the right decisions.

“She can decide things on her own instead of (the coaches) having to tell her what to do,” said Shaw.

Shrewsberry said she likes basketball because it is fast-paced.

“And I like that it’s entirely a team sport,” she added. “Without the entire team playing well you can’t function. I love the way you have to think ahead and know what moves to make in different situations. You have to react fast. It makes you want to be passionate about the game.”

Just five-feet tall, Shrewsberry said her height – or lack of it – is her biggest on-court challenge.

“At my height it makes it hard to see the floor and shoot in certain situations and and my shots can get blocked a lot,” she said. “So, yeah, I’d like to be taller. But I have found ways to overcome it by changing the ways I put my shot up.”

Shrewsberry lists math – this year AP statistics and math analysis – as her favorite subjects.

With a bus to catch for Governor’s School at 6:30 each morning and basketball practice at CCHS after her school day ends there, Shrewsberry has a long day, but she enjoys sports and plans to play tennis in the spring.

She said her future plans are still in the planning stage.

“I have no idea what college I want to attend,” she said. “But I might go to Kenya this summer on a mission trip with Missions with a Vision to help build a safe house for Masai women.”

In addition to sports and school, Caroline works on Sunday’s with her sister Charley at their parent’s store, Harriet’s General, on Davis Street in Culpeper.