Heber Springs senior Serena Pruitt signed her national letter of intent Wednesday evening in Conway to play her favorite sport for four more years at Hendrix College. “Obviously, I feel blessed to have this opportunity,” said Pruitt. “It is probably one of the coolest things I will get to experience in my life. I never expected to be able to play in college.”

Pruitt served as a starter for the Lady Panthers over the course of her career, racking up All-Conference honors while also serving as a leader of the team with classmate Lana Milton, making two trips to the regional tournament. The two players did most of their damage on the offensive end, putting together many games where they would combine to score well over 40 points.

It was a reach out from Lady Warriors head coach Drew Gaeng during Pruitt’s junior season that sparked her interest in the NCAA Division III school. “My parents and I attended a game and I was immediately impressed with how positive and enthusiastic he was during the game,” exclaimed Pruitt. “I decided to go ahead and attend a Preview Day to see what the school was like. I was really impressed with the small school atmosphere and felt that I would be able to make true friends that would last a lifetime.”

Pruitt will take the life lessons she learned from her parents with her when making the move to the City of Colleges, with independence being one of the most valued ones. “I love my parents and they love me, but we both wished that Hendrix was a little further than just an hour away. My parents did a good job teaching me the value of being my own person and not relying on them for every little need in my life. I want to prove to them that I can do it and that I won’t be at home every weekend.”

When asked what she will bring to the table for the team, the 5-7 guard mentioned her competitiveness and desire to win. “I am very competitive and I feel that everyone else should have that mindset of wanting to win like I do. I absolutely hate losing. With that being said, I think that I can see the floor very well, and am able to get my teammates into position in order to get them the ball so they can score. I am excited to be a part of a team of individuals who love the game as much as I do.”

Role models play a large role in the development of an athlete, and Pruitt’s coaches have helped build the foundation for her to reach this stage in her life. “I have been blessed to be surrounded by so many influential coaches who have taught me something about basketball. Coach Martinez showed be how to work and stay focused, Coach Terry taught me how to accept the player I am, Coach John taught me that it’s okay to not be perfect and remind me of my love for the game, and Coach Ingram always made me feel that I belonged and gave me a sense of confidence on the court.”

Amongst all the coaches she has had in her career, Pruitt listed her parents, Bahar and Chris, as her greatest life coaches. “They have spent countless hours driving me from tournament to tournament, always providing for me. They were with me during all of the ups and downs and taught me that quitting was never an answer. I would not be where I am today without their love and support. 

Pruitt will be joining a Hendrix squad that finished 19-9 on the 2017-18 campaign, making a run all the way to the Southern Athletic Association Tournament finals.