Two years ago, Julia Strand was a key player for the Shorecrest girls basketball team in its run to the 2A state championship. Entering last season she was primed for a breakout year, but suffered a torn knee ligament in the Scots’ second game, an injury that sidelined her for the rest of the campaign.
After surgery and rehabilitation, she returned to the court this winter and has flourished, helping the Scots to a 3A state tournament regional berth.
“I’m not so sure she’s not the (Wesco 3A) player of the year,” Shorecrest coach Carlos Humphrey said. “She seems to get stronger every week. She’s becoming a jack-of-all-trades on offense, and she anchors our defense. After sitting out last year, she’s playing with passion. She electrifies everyone around her.”
The Herald recently spoke with Strand about her comeback and off-the-court interests:
What’s this season been like for you coming back from the injury?
Last year was really heartbreaking. My teammates were the No. 1 (reason I got) through my injury. They helped me and loved me a lot. I’m really excited to be back. At the start of this season, I was a little nervous (about her knee), but now I think I’m all in. I don’t think about it during games. I feel that I haven’t lost any speed or quickness.
How would you describe yourself as a player?
Growing up, I was tall, so I was always put in the post. But I’ve gotten a lot better at being aggressive and driving to the hoop. I used to be timid about that. This year it’s one of the best components of my game. I feel I can go inside or outside.
Who’s been your biggest influence on your basketball career?
Jerry Jones. He was our assistant coach my freshman and sophomore years. He really helped me to improve my game. He had leukemia, and he wasn’t supposed to live throughout the entire (2015-16) season. Our team in shambles; going into the playoffs, there were tensions. He brought us out of that. We played for him at that point. A month after we won state, he passed away.
What school activities are you involved in?
I’m (a member of our) DECA club. I work at the student store, and we do community service projects and go to competitions. I’m not sure what I’d like to do for a career yet, but I am interested in business and marketing.
What other hobbies or interests take up your time?
I’m a Young Life leader. Last summer I went to a camp in central Oregon for a week to mentor a group of about 10 middle-school girls. I went to camp for the first time when I was in the eighth grade, and it was such a fun experience. I got close with my leader, and I thought it would be so great to be like her someday. It was cool to have those girls come up to me after our big group talks to share their personal thoughts and ask for help and guidance.
How would you describe your personality?
I can be very outgoing and weird at times, but I’m also a leader. I can be serious and mature, but I’m also fun, and I like to make new friends.