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When Amber Grigsby’s father walked into the house that afternoon, she had no idea that her life was about to change dramatically—and for the better.
She didn’t know that, when he told her that she was going to practice, her confusion would soon turn into elation.
But it was on that day that the third-grader discovered basketball, and it was also on that day that she realized that she was a natural at it.
Even though it took some convincing at first.
“My first impression was that I was gonna suck and that everyone around me was gonna be better than I was,” Grigsby said. “I just didn’t want to mess up and make anyone mad, but I really got the hang of it right off the bat, so it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, I guess.”
Soon after she found basketball, she found defense, her second love.
Grigsby began making an art form of stealing the ball, of reading a ball-handler’s eyes.
But it wasn’t until she began playing for the varsity team in seventh grade that she knew she had what it takes.
“I realized that I could take the ball from [the varsity players] just as well as I could from players my age,” Grigsby said. “And I knew if I could do that, I must be pretty good on defense.”
It was much easier to hone her craft once she came to this realization, and she worked on making defense her calling card.
“I don’t know why, but defense is just my favorite thing,” Grigsby said. “I like to intercept the ball, take that gamble and try to get a steal whenever I can.”
And, typically, to excel on defense, one must give maximum effort night in and night out.
WC Commanderette Head Coach Bernard Smalley knows that is the case with Grigsby.
“Amber’s one of those kids that you know what you’re going to get every night,” Smalley said. “She’s hard-nosed, and she’s going to give you 110 percent every play. She brings it every game.”
If it’s her hustle that stands out on defense, it’s her unselfishness that is her top asset on offense.
In fact, she even prefers passing to shooting.
“I’m not that good at shooting, so I’d rather get an assist or something like that then try to score all the time,” Grigsby said.
With graduation just around the corner, Grigsby is already making plans for life after basketball. She intends on enrolling at Bluegrass Community and Technical College in Lawrenceburg for two years to complete her general education.
From there, she wants to transfer to either the BCTC in Lexington or to another college in hopes of becoming a dental hygienist.
Although that wasn’t always her career plan.
“I wanted to be a cosmetologist, but I job shadowed a couple people and they told me how you really don’t make that much money and they don’t have any retirement,” Grigsby said. “So I really started thinking about it, and I realized I wanted to have something to fall back on when I got older.”
It was at this point that she realized how “fascinated” she was by teeth.
“I love teeth,” Grigsby said. “I had braces, and when they took my braces off, I started asking them questions and that got me interested in being a dental hygienist ... I’m just a tooth fanatic, and I know I’ll be able to do that and I’ll enjoy doing it.”
But with the end of the season and graduation both looming, Grigsby is already anticipating how painful all of the goodbyes will be, especially the one to the team.
“You get so attached to playing basketball and your team,” Grigsby said. “I know that when I graduate, I know that I’m just going to cry. I’m going to miss basketball probably more than anything.”