COVINGTON, Ga. — Time was winding down for Erianna Card’s collegiate basketball future, at least as far as she was concerned, and for the first time in her life, she was starting to believe that ball was no longer her thing.
“I was actually planning to just put the ball down for good and go to school and be a regular student,” Card said.
But that was easier said than done. That’s because the 5-foot-7 Newton Lady Rams forward has been hooping for as long as she can remember. It comes natural to her. It’s in her blood.
And this past season — her last as a Newton High student-athlete — the sport evolved into something more than just a game. It became an outlet that got her through one of the toughest moments of her life, and her team became her family in the process.
“This year was really a tough one,” she said. “It really tested me mentally and physically. This year was the first time I ever questioned my love for basketball, and if this was really what I wanted to do. But my family and close friends helped me get through it. My relationship with God grew and helped me overcome the obstacles from this year.”
And a phone call from AAU coach Tim Cotton didn’t hurt, either.
Cotton, the coach of the Triple Threat All-Stars travel team, and father of one of Card’s graduated teammates, point guard Takiya Cotton, has been following and helping to tutor Card and her game since long before her days as a Lady Ram. So it should’ve come as no surprise that he was the one who helped resuscitate her collegiate aspirations.
“As time was winding down, I didn’t have a college home,” Card said. “I had the option to go to Fort Valley and try out in September, but I didn’t like the idea of going to a school and having to try out a month later.”
That’s when the thoughts of quitting began to surface, and that’s about the time when the phone rang.
“Coach Cotton called and said he wasn’t going to let me quit,” Card said. “He got in contact with the coach at Voorhees College and sent him my film. The coach expressed how he loved my film and tried to get me down for a tryout, but I couldn’t make it.”
No worries. The Voorhees coaching staff was so impressed with Card’s demonstrated ability on and off the court that it didn’t wait to see her personally in order to extend a scholarship offer.
“When coach Tim relayed the message back to me, I knew I couldn’t let it slip away from me,” Card said. “Voorhees’ coach was astonished with my high GPA and test scores, and the school wasn’t far from home at all.”
So shortly after the offer, Monday evening to be exact, Card pulled the trigger on committing.
“My love for basketball does not stop here,” Card said in her commitment statement posted on Twitter. “I’d like to thank God for blessing me with the ability to play the sport I love. I would like to thank…my dad, NHS basketball staff and a special thanks to Coach Tim (Cotton).”
Thanks to her 3.5 GPA, Card signed on to Voorhees by way of an athletic scholarship. She’ll major in business with a biology minor while walking on to the basketball team.
Card earned a reputation for being one of Newton’s most gritty players and best defenders. She’d often get matched up against an opponent’s top offensive player, whether on the perimeter or in the paint, and never backed away from guarding players much bigger and taller than she is.
Card’s scrappiness was key to helping Newton storm back from an 18-point third quarter deficit against defending state champion McEachern, allowing the Lady Rams to punch their first ticket to a state title game in 46 years.
And her tenacity earned her the nickname, “Superwoman.” In that McEachern game, Card played despite the passing of her grandfather earlier that day.
She credits those types of moments for giving her what she needed to not only prepare her for college, but push her through the difficulties that threatened her next-level goals.
“Newton has truly prepared me for this by equipping me with mental and physical toughness,” she said. “From putting me in battles with larger and quicker opponents, to just helping me through all the mental challenges.”
Card becomes the third member of the Rams’ graduating class of 2018 to have chosen a college to play basketball, joining 2017-18 All-TCN Girls Player of the Year, Jurnee Smith (Columbus State) and the 2016-17 player of the year, Lexii Chatman (Georgia Southwestern).