Colorado women’s basketball coach JR Payne could have her team run 100 sprints in practice and she’s pretty confident in where point guards Jaylyn Sherrod and Kindyll Wetta would finish.
“They’d win all 100 of them and they’re happy to do it,” Payne said. “It’s natural to them to go hard and win.”
What’s not natural for them, however, is speaking up and leading vocally, but Payne and her staff are trying to change that.
Sherrod, in particular, is pushing herself to lead more as she prepares for her senior season with the Buffaloes.
“I just take the mentality of I’ve just gotta do what’s best for the team,” Sherrod said. “I know putting myself out there, being more vocal – with me having experience and teaching the freshmen and younger teammates the way we do things – is one of the most important things that I can do for this team, more than what I can do on the court.”
Of course, what Sherrod does on the court is important, too. She has started 66 of her 73 career games (including all 31 last year), while averaging 9.2 points and 4.2 assists per game. She has been a defensive stopper at times, too.
In previous years, however, Sherrod had the luxury of stepping back vocally. The Buffs had strong leadership in Mya Hollingshead, Peanut Tuitele, Sila Finau and Aubrey Knight, but they all graduated in the spring.
Sherrod is one of four seniors this year, but as a point guard and the most experienced player on the team, she understands the importance of her leadership.
It starts with her relationship with Wetta, an ultra-competitive sophomore who shares point guard duties with Sherrod.
“Me and Kindyll have developed a bond where we try to keep each other accountable in what we do,” Sherrod said. “I think that’s helped both of us tremendously. That’s someone that I really depend on to keep me on line and let me know things that I need to do better and vice versa. I think our relationship has developed a lot over the past couple of months since the end of last season.”
Setting a good example for Wetta and other young players is part of what drives Sherrod this year.
It’s been a big adjustment for Sherrod to lose last year’s seniors, as well as two members of the staff that were close to her: assistant coach Shandrika Lee and special assistant to the head coach Monica Armstrong. Both left the Buffs for different career opportunities after last season.
Sherrod, who is working on her master’s degree, is embracing the opportunity to get out of her comfort zone, however.
“I knew it was my time to step up, and it was my time to be that person that I’m looked up to, to lead this team, honestly,” she said. “It was a fresh start and it was something new. Did I know (in March) that fresh start would also include losing Shan and Mo? No, but at the same time, it was like a complete fresh start and I just had to grow up a lot. I think that was a big challenge and one of the reasons I came back was to embrace that challenge and knowing that it would be on me and some other seniors to actually step up this year and be that (leader).”