By Joel Coleman
Good things do come to those who wait. Just ask Shamia Robinson.
The West Oktibbeha girls basketball standout and Starkville Daily News All-Area Player of the Year began the 2010-11 season on the sidelines recovering from surgery on a torn meniscus in her left knee.
She ended the campaign with a playoff run and her second-straight SDN yearly honor.
In between, the Mississippi State signee rode quite the emotional roller-coaster in what ended up being a memorable senior season with the Lady Timberwolves.
"When I first started and had to have (knee) surgery, I cried because I knew it was going to take a while to get on the court," said Robinson. "The season was starting, practice was going on and it was just difficult or me. I was anxious to get on the court for my senior year and I really wanted it. I wanted to be a part of it and it wasn't possible."
It was quite the trying time for Robinson. Just one year after a junior season that saw her average 18.8 points per game and nine rebounds, Robinson was relegated to the role of cheerleader as the season got underway.
For the year's first 11 games, all Robinson could do was offer a pat on the back or a piece of advice, playing a role that's not easy for any player, much less one with the talent and makeup of Robinson.
"I just motivated everyone," said Robinson. "I told them to work hard and give it their all. In games, when I'd see them down and out, I'd talk to them and tell them to lift their heads up."
For nearly a calendar month, Robinson sat on the bench beside West Oktibbeha coaches Shelia and Kevin Bailey. She watched as teammates like Brenisha Brownlee, Jaslynn Bedford and Brittany Jones shouldered the Lady Timberwolves' load.
Finally, on December 3 at East Webster, it was Robinson's time to join the fray.
"When coach told me to suit up that night, I was so happy," said Robinson. "I had tears of joy coming from my eyes."
Though she tallied just six points that night, Robinson was back. As her knee progressed, Robinson's play began to return to dominant form.
"The first game against East Webster, I was terrified to get out there," said Robinson. "I was excited, but scared. Eventually, I saw that I had to put my trust in my knee, play on it and I finally got comfortable with it. It took about five or six games, but it was good after that."
The good news for Robinson was bad news for any opponent who faced West Oktibbeha. With Robinson surging, the Lady Timberwolves tore through the remainder of the regular season and locked up a first-round home playoff game before ultimately losing to finish with an overall record of 18-11.
Robinson herself finished with numbers much like the season prior, including an 18.9 points per game average.
"(Robinson) is a great talent," said Kevin Bailey. "She could play all positions at the high school level. She was a good teammate, gave it her all and was coachable. Even at the next level, I think she can be an extraordinary talent because she's versatile, can shoot, can drive and can jump. She just needs to continue to work on her defense. But she has a passion for the game and is eager to learn."
Also impressing Kevin Bailey was Robinson's ability to teach. Not so much through her words, but through her actions in battling back from the injury.
"(Robinson) definitely set a good example for the ones coming up," said Kevin Bailey. "We have a good chance to have a great basketball team next year with what's left over and the inspiration she's left on the younger players."
As for Robinson, next season will bring another challenge â€“ the Southeastern Conference.
Even if the going gets tough for Robinson when she gets to Starkville, she can always fall back on the remembrance of a difficult senior year that still turned out to be a success.
"I'm super excited about (coming to MSU)," said Robinson. "I think about it every day and I smile. I think I'm ready. I know, coming from a small school, it's going to be difficult, but I'm ready to adjust to the changes."