GRAND JUNCTION — A busy schedule doesn’t begin to describe the kind of itinerary Sharaya Selsor faces every day.
“I just have to not sleep as much as the typical student athlete does,” said Selsor, a senior guard for Colorado Mesa University who graduated from Glenwood Springs High School in 2008. “But I’ve learned a lot from everything. My work ethic is truly a reflection of the life that I live.”
It’s a busy life, for sure. Selsor just graduated from Mesa in December with a degree in sports management with a minor in business, and she’ll enter the school’s masters program in business administration this spring. Meanwhile, she’s a single mother of Carter Laray Herl, her soon-to-be 2-year-old daughter who loves hanging out with her mom during alone-time shootarounds at Brownson Arena.
None of this, mind you, had kept Selsor, 22, from excelling on the basketball court. Through this past weekend’s games, the 25.8 points-per-game scoring average she’s accumulated ranks her second in the nation among Division II women’s basketball players, and it’s helped lift the Mavericks to a No. 5 ranking in the Division II national poll and a 12-0 overall record.
That success is spurred from a competitive drive that’s been there since she played basketball for the Demons at Spencer-Chavez Gymnasium, and that competitive drive only heightens thanks to the task in front of her.
Time to Grow
Selsor, now in her senior season, is playing her second consecutive season of college basketball for the first time. She had to redshirt following her freshman season at Metro State College in Denver, as Metro’s coaching staff wouldn’t grant a release to Selsor following her transfer to Mesa. She was solid in the 2010-11 season when she got to play again, scoring 12.4 points per game with 43 3-pointers.
The next season, however, Selsor became pregnant with Carter. Selsor was offered a medical redshirt by former Mesa coach Roger Walters, who now coaches the boys basketball team at Rifle High School. Instead, however, she opted to move to Kansas with her daughter’s father, fearing that her playing days were over.
They weren’t, as it turned out. Following the 2011-12 season, Selsor moved back to Grand Junction with her daughter not only to play basketball for new Mesa coach Taylor Wagner, but to play a final season with her younger sister, Katrina, for the Mavericks in the 2012-13 season. It turned out to be a banner year for the Mavs, who won the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference title, finished the season 31-2 and reached the Division II Elite Eight for the first time in school history.
Selsor was solid again last season, averaging 12.4 points to go with a team-high 63 3-pointers. But playing eligibility ran out for the 6-foot-1 Katrina, who averaged more than 14 points per game, and Kelsey Sigl, who averaged more than 18 points. With those two gone after this past season, Selsor was asked by Wagner to step into more of a scoring role. It was a definite change for the 5-9 guard, whose primary focus last season was defending the best player for each of Mesa’s opponents.
Her role on defense hasn’t changed, but the emphasis on scoring wasn’t something Selsor backed down from. Instead, she embraced it.
“I think that she took it upon herself to just take the whole offseason to become a much better player,” Wagner said. “she can drive now. Last year she kind stayed on the perimeter more. Not she’s doing a great job of getting to the basket and getting to the free throw line, which is huge for us.”
That’s showed. Against Colorado Christian in Lakewood this past Friday, Selsor hit a running jumper as the final buzzer sounded to lift the Mavs to a 67-65 win. And during that game, she passed her sister for 16th place on Mesa’s all-time scoring list. Selsor now has 1,053 career points at Mesa, which is just two behind the 1,055 points scored by 15th-place Carrie Dixon.
Through Tuesday, Selsor’s scoring average is ranked only behind Ashley Watts of Paine College in Augusta, Ga., who is averaging 29.9 points per game. On Monday, Selsor was named the RMAC Player of the Month for the month of December, averaging 29.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and four assists in that time frame. It was the second consecutive month Selsor has earned the conference’s player of the month honor.
“I came into this season in the best shape of my life, and it’s showed in a lot of ways,” Selsor said.
There are, of course, the comments Wagner made to Selsor in the offseason, also. One was how he was going to out recruit her, meaning she’s only as good as the next person who comes along.
“I know why he was doing that,” Selsor said, smiling. “He knew that with me being the prideful person that I am, I wouldn’t let that happen.”
Basketball, though a huge part of Selsor’s daily routine, is just a small piece of each day.
“My days are literally arranged minutes at a time,” she said.
It was hectic even before basketball season started. Some days would start before sunrise, with Selsor getting to work for a short 2 1/2-hour shift as a building manager at Mesa’s rec center at 4:30 a.m. The rest of the day would be spent going to class and driving to and from campus to daycare in Fruita where Carter is before winding down around 9 p.m. each night. There’s even been times when, as a part of saving her own sanity, she’d plot out a 10-minute time slot to do homework for a class while sitting in a lecture hall for another class.
“I find very random times to do homework,” she said, laughing. “I’ve truly learned some very impressive multitasking skills over these past few months.”
Then came the end of the fall semester, when basketball practices and games had to be figured in. Selsor will bring Carter to the gym when she’s shooting on her own, but she hesitates to make it a habit of bringing her daughter to a full-fledged practice regularly.
Then, of course, there’s daycare for Carter. Selsor’s daughter spends two days a week at a Fruita daycare, with the rest of the time split up between family members. That includes Selsor’s grandmother and her parents — who moved from Glenwood Springs to Grand Junction. It also includes her sister Katrina, who is currently serving as an assistant coach at Grand Junction Central.
“There have been times when coach Wags would change a practice time and I’d be like, ‘No!’” Selsor said, jokingly.
Yet with all of this, she’s still managed to be more productive on the basketball court.
“Knowing her now for two years, this doesn’t surprise me. She manages her time very well,” Wagner said. “Everything she does, she does it 100 percent. She takes everything, no matter what it is, and wants to succeed.”
The goal ahead
For someone who has everything plotted down to the minute, Selsor’s post-graduation plans aren’t set in stone yet. She’s hoping to get into something where she can utilize her degrees, admitting that the jobs she’s had have filled a spot based more on convenience than career. Her class load as she begins work on her master’s degree will only be nine credit hours — which includes an online course — which will possibly free up some time to spend with Carter. The courses will be much tougher, though, and Selsor’s importance in the Mavericks’ lineup is critical as the team gets into the meat of its conference schedule.
The biggest challenge Selsor faces, however, will be the mental aspect of her schedule. That’s a challenge she’s looking forward to, although she’s going to stick with the plan that’s helped her cope with her busy schedule all this time.
“School is the hardest thing,” she said. “On the basketball court, I can keep pushing. But when I’m exhausted and I have to sit down and write a 10-page paper, that will be the real challenge.
“But then again, I can’t think too much about what might be coming,” she continued. “This is my life, and these are the cards I’ve been dealt. Not attacking the situation with the highest positivity will only make me not succeed. That’s not an option.”