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Starting slow, finishing big

Discovering her career dream helped Asia Foster make up for lost time

“Our team has won 20-plus games every year she’s been here, and she is a main reason why,” said Alex Lang, Asia Foster’s coach. BROOKLYN COLLEGE PHOTO

When Asia Foster arrived at Brooklyn College as a freshman, her shooting form wasn’t developed. She didn’t have much of a jump shot. Her free throws were far from freebies.

Even her new teammates questioned why she was on the team. “Coach,” some seniors would ask Brooklyn women’s basketball coach Alex Lang, “you actually recruited this girl?”

Foster struggled in a couple of classes, too, and for most of her first semester, Lang wondered whether she would remain academically eligible. She ended up pulling through the first semester of her freshman year with a 2.0.

“I was a little worried,” Lang recalled. “I thought maybe she’s not going to make it, that maybe she was one of those people who will lose attention to school. I didn’t want that to happen to her.”

Foster knows something about starting out behind. Removed from her home and placed in foster care at age 3, she was assigned to a group home, where the other kids, and even the foster mother, mistreated her. “What I learned in that house,” she said, “is that you should never tell a kid that age they’re never going to be anything in life.”

Two years later, she went to live with a new foster mother who eventually adopted her. “My mother – she’s the best thing that ever happened to me,” Foster said. “She’s my inspiration.”

Foster drew on that inspiration when, after one semester of college, she realized she was going to have to work harder. College was her future, her opportunity. She didn’t want to blow it.

It helped that she had found a major that fit her and inspired her. She is majoring in sociology with a minor in children’s issues. “I took classes that touched my heart,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to work with kids, but these classes have opened my eyes about everything – child abuse, children’s rights. I want to go into a career in foster care.”

Foster, in her words, “lived at the library” that second semester. Her grades shot up. After that rough start, her cumulative GPA is now above a 3.0.

And on the court, the teammates who once questioned why she was there now look at her as a leader. Foster, who didn’t start playing basketball until she was a high school junior, is now a co-captain of her college team.

“I’ve dealt with so many different personalities,” Lang said. “Most people have positive attitudes in general, but when push comes to shove, some can turn other ways or don’t do what you ask or don’t have the best disposition when you’re getting on them.

“But Asia, she’s just a pleasure to deal with,” he continued. “Every time we pulled her over in a practice or got on her or tried to get on her, it was, ‘Yes, coach,’ and she’d nod her head and stay after practice to work on things. She just had a great attitude about everything.”

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Champion magazine goes behind the headlines and beyond the scoreboards to celebrate the unique connection between Americans and college sports. Champion is published by the NCAA.

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