It isn't easy for Bernita Washington, mother of star junior Joshua Washington, to be away from her child. She is generally at his side as he travels the country perfecting the game that he loves. However, this time is different. For the next two weeks, her son will be in Germany in a tournament. It was a difficult decision, but Bernita will sit this one out and cheer on her child from afar.
Joshua was one of 12 students chosen for the team. The list includes standouts such as Ekene Ebekwe and Dane Bradshaw. Former participants include Magic Johnson, Glen Rice, Tim Duncan and Vince Carter.
Trips such as this has become standard fare in the Washington household. In an ideal world, an athlete would have to venture no further than his high school gym to hone his game and gain the attention of college recruiters. However, in this day in age, the road to a college scholarship often zig zags across the country - in this case, the globe.
The basketball lifestyle can take a lot out of a family if they are not prepared. Sacrifices must be made. Bernita has been blessed with a career that allows her to take time off to follow her son along the busy summer circuit.
"I am a nurse," she said. "I work all the way until the month of June, and I take a leave until August 15."
As they travel from stop to stop, Bernita makes it a point to meet the parents in the stands. She enjoys the camaraderie, but she also mingles with an eye on the future. For Bernita, it is important that she knows quality people in all corners of the country. She says that it will be easier to send her son off to college if she knows that there is a family nearby that will give him a home cooked meal when needed.
Joshua recently completed a junior season that saw him average 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists. His St. Stanislaus High School (Mississippi) team made made a strong run to the state's final four. He is a good ball handler who has the ability to play close to the basket or step out for the three.
Bernita is proud of her son's accomplishments on the court, but perhaps the greatest news of the season arrived last week in the form of her son's report card. Joshua earned a 3.2 gpa. Balancing academics and athletics wasn't easy. A member of the honor roll since sixth grade, he often stayed up past 1:00 AM to complete assignments.
"His school comes first," said Bernita. "There is a small percentage that goes on beyond college."
Joshua's hard work in the classroom has been noticed by college recruiters. Ivy League member, Brown has been in contact with the family. Many other schools have been lining up for a shot at the student athlete. Michigan, Seton Hall, Syracuse, William & Mary, William & Mary, Connecticut, Nebraska, Temple, Florida, SMU, Southern Illinois, Illinois, and Hampton are just a few. The family intends to leave no stone unturned when choosing a college. In fact, they even visited Temple and Nebraska unofficially recently to get a feel for a winter up north.
Joshua will return from Germany in a few weeks and it will be back to the books. It will also be time to turn an eye towards the summer. He has yet to decide on an AAU team or whether he will attend the Nike or Adidas camp. However, one thing is certain. Wherever he goes, his greatest fan will be cheering him on - whether he's playing against a cros town rival or lighting up his opponents overseas. That's what mothers are for.