Dream Big Profile: Jerica Watson
As a sophomore, Watson suffered a possible career-ending ACL injury with subsequent knee surgery. However, her love for the game of basketball inspired her to push through the pain. "Instead of thinking about my present situation, I thought about the future and how much better a basketball player I can be," said Watson. Once she saw improvement, that gave her encouragement. She continued to do the rehabilitation and listened to her doctors. This year, Watson is at full strength and ready to help her Hawkeye teammates win another Big Ten tournament like they did last year.
Growing up in Milwaukee, Wisc., Watson started playing basketball at the age of 12. Superstar Michael Jordan and her high school coach provided her with inspiration and influence. "The first time I saw Michael Jordan, I just wanted to be like him. I tried to imitate what he did on the basketball court. But I also tried to be myself ," she said. Watson's high school coach believed in her at times when she didn't believe in herself. "She always expected a lot out of me." She gave me advice on how basketball can help you in life. [She would say that] going to college and getting a good education are the most important things in life," said Watson.
As a graphic design major, Watson aspires to start an art company where she can sell her own art and that of her family's. Her mother, brothers and sisters are all artists. In addition to art, she enjoys music, poetry and photography.
Although basketball practice and her studies keep Watson busy, she finds time to watch other sports, especially track. "I like Marion Jones. I like to imagine myself sometimes as a track star just to help me play basketball. If you imagine yourself as a track star on a basketball court, then it gives you a little more confidence running down the court," said Watson.
If she learned a hard lesson from her knee injury, it was this: always believe in yourself. "I feel like if that injury hadn't happened to me, I wouldn't be as good a basketball player or as good a person," Watson explains. The experience made her tougher. She now faces challenges straight on. "If you believe in yourself, you can get farther than you ever dreamed possible."
To dream big, Watson says to use your imagination. "Try to do things that you've never seen people do before. And, never give up!"