ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Emily Stark still considers herself a Lobo, but she’s no longer a member of the University of New Mexico women’s basketball team.
Stark, a 6-foot-5 post who appeared in 23 games last season, said she will pass up her senior season because of health issues. She remains at UNM under scholarship and expects to earn a degree in the spring.
“This is what needed to happen,” Stark said. “It’s not the ending I thought of when I was a 9-year-old girl dreaming of playing Division I basketball, but at some point health has to come first.”
Stark missed several games last season for what were described as “undisclosed medical reasons.” She declined to give specifics Saturday but said her condition is much-improved. Giving up basketball, she said, will make staying healthy easier.
Lobos coach Yvonne Sanchez said she supports Stark’s decision.
“Emily did a great job overcoming things last year,” Sanchez said, “but this is probably in her best interest. She’ll continue her education and that’s really what she came here for in the first place.”
Stark played sparingly in her Lobo career. She averaged 1.4 points and 1.1 rebounds in 5.7 minutes per game last season, all of which were career highs.
Now Stark plans to teach special education.
“I’m just trading my basketball shorts in for a skirt,” she said.
Stark said she remains close to her former teammates and plans to cheer them on from the Pit stands this season.
“They really supported me and got me through a lot. I’m thankful,” Stark said. “Overall, a lot of positive things came from being a Lobo. When I look back on my career, it’s going to be great memories. Mine were just made in three years instead of four.”
ADDITION: Alexa Chavez, a 6-foot post who graduated from St. Michael’s High School in 2012, has joined the Lobos as a walk-on. Chavez began taking classes at UNM during the summer and joined the team for individual workouts. Chavez averaged 16.2 points, 11.5 rebounds and was an all-state selection for the Lady Horsemen last season.
“Alexa approached me in the summer and asked to be part of the program,” Sanchez said. “She did a great job in workouts. We’re happy to have her.”
— This article appeared on page D3 of the Albuquerque Journal