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UDC standout juggles family, school and job

(Published April 22, 2002)

By BRIAN BRADFORD

Staff Writer

Tiffany Crowellís job at a local fried chicken restaurant was depressing and she wanted more for her 2-year-old daughter Nikita.

Than a former high school teammate encouraged her to try out for the University of the District of Columbiaís volleyball team. It had been three years since Crowell played for Crossland Senior High School, but she figured an athletic scholarship could get her out of her job. Crowell tried out and spiked her way into a full scholarship.

"Playing on the college level is so much more demanding, because the players are much more familiar with the game than the girls in high school, who havenít gotten the basics down yet," Crowell said. "It was a big jump."

As a freshman, Crowell played a big role on the Firebirdsí team and was expected to lead the team the following year.

Pregnant with her second child, Nashawn, Crowell was forced to sit out the next volleyball season. But two months after giving birth, Crowell was back on the court Ė this time trying out for the basketball team. She earned a roster spot and the next year she was offered a scholarship in both volleyball and basketball.

Next month, Crowell will graduate from UDC with a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice and will have earned three letters in varsity volleyball and three in varsity basketball.

"Iím blessed. My husband was very supportive of me the four years I wanted to be a collegiate athlete," Crowell said.

Her husband, Frederick, picks the two girls up from school and their son from the nursery center while Crowell is in class or at practice.

"They all come to my home games and Frederick takes good care of them while Iím away at games," Crowell said.

On an average day, Crowell drops the kids off at their schools before going to work a security job at the Federal Aviation Administrationís headquarters. After work she has classes at UDCís Van Ness campus and then basketball practice begins at 7 p.m.

Crowell played shooting guard for the Firebirds and averaged nine points a game this year, including a 19-point performance against Mansfield College. She holds a 3.0 grade-point average and has a year of eligibility in both sports left if she decides to go to graduate school.

The Firebirds are independent from any conference and have a hard time finding schools to play against. That, and a small budget, restricts the teamís travel to games against schools in Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Copyright 2002, The Common Denominator