Anna Prestridge, the SDN Girls High School Player of the Year, dribbles the basketball up the court for the Starkville Academy Lady Volunteers last season. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
For Anna Prestridge, three years ago she did not want to move and attend Starkville Academy.
If you ask her today, her answer is different.
"I got involved with basketball and cheerleading," Prestridge said when she moved from Parklane Academy to SA. "That helped the move be so much smoother. It ended up working out great for me because we were such a good team this year. I have gotten to be really close friends with a lot of people."
Prestridge was selected as Starkville Daily News' High School Girls Basketball Player of the Year.
Steve Prestridge, Anna's father, learned that he was losing his job when Anna was a freshman. He knew it was going to be tough on him, but also knew Anna was to be affected by it as well.
"I remember after a basketball game when she was a freshman, I told her that I was losing my job," her father said. "I told her I wanted her to hear it from me. The first words out of her mouth were 'Dad, we are not going to have to move are we?'
"That was not in my plans. My plan was not to move. God has other plans for us a lot of times that we don't always recognize. Anna initially did not want to move, but when she realized that we were seeking God's guidance, he was moving us and opening an opportunity for us to move to Starkville, she started getting a little bit excited about it."
Prestridge played point guard and led her team to three state titles. The Lady Volunteers won the Class AAA, Division II State Championship, the Class AAA State Championship and the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Overall State Championship.
Coming into her senior season, Anna had set a goal of winning a state title.
"One goal was an overall championship," Prestridge said. "We worked really hard and we thought we had the potential and the ability to win a state championship and an overall state championship."
Her teammates saw what type of leader she was on and off the court and will miss playing with her next season.
"She is just the definition of a team player and a leader," junior and teammate Anna Lea Little said. "It has meant so much to play with her the past two years. She just does whatever it takes."
For younger players like Nora Kathryn Carroll, they fed off her energy and her leadership qualities all season long.
"She is a great leader and she knows how to handle the ball," Carroll said. "She gets us pumped up because she is the leader of the team."
For the season, Anna averaged 4.4 points a game, but made up for it in other areas. She averaged 2.7 assists, 2.0 steals, 0.3 blocks and only 1.1 turnovers a game.
She was the leader on defense and set the tone and the other players followed behind her on defense.
"She has more affect on a game without scoring than almost any player I have ever coached," Starkville Academy girls coach Glenn Schmidt said. "I don't have to say much to her. She puts herself in my thinking. (She) absolutely sacrifices whatever she needs to sacrifice for whatever we need to do."
Anna played with an unselfish attitude and did whatever it took to help her team out.
"I try to be as unselfish as I can because it's not about me," Prestridge said. "It's about getting a win and it doesn't matter who scores the most points or gets the most rebounds. It's about the overall picture and getting the win."
Off the court, Anna is described a great young lady who loves life. Her parents have seen things in her that make them proud to be parents.
"She is very disciplined, (and) has a lot of self discipline," Steve Prestridge said. "I'm not sure where she gets that. It's not from her mom or me. Anna has always, from the time she was a kid, thrived in a structured environment. Coach Schmidt has a very structured program and Anna just thrived in that program, simply because it fits her nature very well. She has always been one who colors within the lines. She always played by the rules and stayed within the lines. She has just thrived in coach Schmidt's program. Anna is one who wants to be her best whether it's academics or athletics. She wants to do her very best. Her mom and I have always appreciated that about her. That's a trait that is her's alone."
Schmidt describes her as a young lady who has a solid up bringing and someone she enjoys being around.
"She is an awesome young lady," Schmidt said. "She is well-rounded, family-oriented, she gets along with everyone and she doesn't have one particular group of people she hangs with. She is very academic-minded and very focused. She is a Christian woman and she lives it and she walks it. She is a joy to be around."
Anna plans to attend Mississippi State and major in kinesiology. She plans to be a physical therapist when she graduates.
But there is no better way to cap a great senior season, than to be chosen as player of the year.
"It feels awesome," Anna said. "I never expected it at all."
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