A benign smile, enhanced with braces, belies the competitive nature that lurks beneath the surface of Evangel’s Tiara Young.
Much of that drive, determination and “let’s get it done” attitude comes from her mother, Lady Eagles girls’ basketball coach Meoka Young. The dynamic duo share a lot of court time together, whether battling 5A basketball during the high school season, or in gyms across the country during summer AAU competition with the Louisiana Lightning.
The duo will share some off-court, quality time together Sunday with a card and a kiss during Mother’s Day.
“I wouldn’t trade my mom for any other mother in the world,” Tiara said during a recent interview with The Times, her first as a high school student. “I’ve seen her cry and that really hurts me. When she gets on me during games, it hurts, but I know it makes me a better player.”
Already a Times All-City first teamer as a freshman, the 14-year-old Young is a rapidly rising standout on the recruiting circuit. She’s already received a college offer, but is mum on which school delivered it. She has dreams of playing for UConn, and is on pace to be a Division I signee when that day arrives.
“That’s if Tiara keeps working hard on her skill sets,” Meoka said. “This is a big summer for her (from a recruiting standpoint). I just want her to be able to play somewhere at the next level.”
The mother-daughter coaching situation at Evangel isn’t the only one in the area. Benton coach Mary Ward also coaches her freshman daughter, Emily, and Ward was the subject of a recent story in Rouge, a publication of The Times.
With the Youngs, it’s basketball and more basketball from sunup to sundown. That means a lot of quality time together.
“Tiara is a momma’s baby, but I’m trying to wean her away from that,” Meoka said. “When there’s an AAU tournament, she says she won’t go if I’m not going. So, I don’t miss a one. I enjoy that time because I get to just sit in the stands and be a mom. Of course I critique what she’s doing.”
Tiara started walking at nine months, and although she woke up every two hours to eat, according to mom, she wasn’t a difficult baby.
“She was doing cheer moves at (1 year), but I bought her a basketball goal to change her mind,” Meoka said laughing.
By the age of three, Tiara was already shooting hoops in a full-size goal and she hasn’t stopped shooting since. Careful to play within the team concept, there are times when she has to bear the brunt of her mother’s outrage to set an example for the rest of the team.
“I am very hard on her and sometimes it’s difficult to split the relationship of mom and coach,” Meoka said. “I know the potential Tiara has and she is the leader of our team. If the other kids see me getting on her, they’ll fall in.”
The area’s leading scorer last winter at 23 points per game, Young also averaged five rebounds and four assists per contest, as Evangel moved up to 5A for the first time under Meoka. Mom is a BTW graduate who played collegiately for two years at Frank Phillips Junior College.
“I came home after that because I was homesick,” she said. “I don’t want that to happen for Tiara, even though I may not be able to make all her games.”
Tiara is no slouch in the classroom, especially with mom just around the corner on the Evangel campus.
“If I get in trouble, they go to mom first,” Tiara said.
She made a 4.0 in the first semester this fall, but had a “C” in English in the second half.
“I got on her pretty good about that,” Meoka said. “When the basketball ends, you’ve got to have an education to fall back on.”
Most of the memories currently being made around the Young household involve basketball, since the AAU circuit is underway. The Lighting Boltz, part of the Louisiana Lightning family, has already won one tournament in Frisco, Texas, and is headed to Little Rock later this month. That team includes Ward and two of Young’s Evangel buddies and teammates, twins Madison and Meagan Laboy.
Meoka, who has a basketball playing son, 11-year-old Warren Jr., says she wasn’t often sick while carrying the 5-foot-9 Tiara, who was a meager 5 pounds, 9 ounces and 19.5 inches when she arrived after 12 hours of labor.
Mothers should be aware of what they eat while they’re with child, according to Meoka.
“While I was pregnant with her, I ate a lot of hot Cheetos and that is now her favorite chips to eat,” she said chuckling.
Tiara was unsure what she would get her mom for Mother’s Day, other than the usual card. It depended a lot on where her father, Warren, took her and Warren Jr. shopping. But she won’t be pulling a joke or being sneaky. She’s been there, done that.
She made “a bad grade” a couple of years ago and decided to hide the report card from her mother, telling her the teacher failed to give it to her.
“But my mom called the teacher, who told her the truth. I did get in trouble for that one,” Tiara said sheepishly.
FIND IT ONLINE
Watch a video of Tiara Young wishing happy Mother’s Day at shreveporttimes.com.