By Timothy Durham
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
When junior Texas A&M women's basketball player Kelsey Bone transferred to the Aggies' squad after playing at South Carolina, it came with a blessing and a price.
She had the benefit of transferring to the team that would win the 2011 National Championship, but she would not be able to play a minute on the court with her teammates.
Because of transfer rules, Bone was required to sit one year out before competing in games under the direction of head coach Gary Blair.
Bone said that the decision to play division I basketball many miles north of her home state of Texas was one that came with youth and a desire to see new places.
"Out of high school I kind of thought I wanted to go to school far from home," Bone said. "I've always lived in Texas, so I think I just kind of wanted something different. But at the same time, I was 17 years old, so I kind of felt like I knew a whole lot more than I did."
But her decision to transfer back to Texas A&M University in College Station-just under 100 miles from her hometown- was one that was influenced by family.
"As a student athlete, you don't really always have a lot of time to yourself, but I really liked where I was and being in a different part of the country," Bone said. "But because being a student athlete is so strenuous, you have to have a support system and I felt like I needed to be closer to my support system; my family."
But being closer to home wasn't a guarantee that she would automatically become accustomed to a new school. However, Bone said she had no problem weaving her way through the tradition-rich streets of Texas A&M.
"It's funny because there's a saying ‘On the outside looking in, you don't really understand it," Bone said. "And I'm from Texas, so I knew about the rivalry and everything, but you really can't understand it until you are an Aggie. But becoming an Aggie was a great thing for me, and the traditions here are amazing."
Then, when Bone got moved in and settled, she said that being a part of the team became an easy thing for her because of her accepting teammates. And despite not being able to compete in game for her squad, she said she felt her own presence on the court vicariously through a specific teammate.
"Danielle and I were very close," Bone said. "She kind of was my connection to the court because we were going against each other so much in practice- everyday there was a battle. When she was out there doing her thing it felt like a part of me was out there doing that because I had played a part in getting her prepared."
The next challenge for Bone was two-fold: to fill the offensive shoes left by All-American and first round WNBA draft pick Danielle Adams and to find her spot on a team she had only practiced with.
Bone said that playing in games again is something that some people may take for granted.
"A lot of people think, oh she sat out a year, but she's ready," Bone said. "But there's also a learning curve- that was the first year I haven't played basketball since I was nine."
Bone said finding her spot is a work in progress with the team, but she is bending her game to fit what the Aggies need.
"At this point, I'm trying to be whatever it is that the coaches and my teammates need me to be," Bone said. "Whatever they ask for game in and game out, that's what I'm trying to do."
This season has had its up and downs already for the Texas A&M squad. The Aggies started off ranked as a Top-5 team, but the team has moved down a few spots following a pair of back-to-back losses to Purdue and Connecticut.
But Kelsey said that that the team has learned from its losses, and that this is the best time for the team to get a wake-up call.
"I think it's a constant work in progress," Kelsey said. "We lost Danielle, a big percentage of our offense, and I think the people who are playing are adjusting themselves to the play. But it's just December now, and better to hit those bumps now then in March and April."
As a welcome addition to the Aggie family, Kelsey has her eyes set on the prize for her team- even following the first National Championship season in Texas A&M history.
"I think at the end of the day, we want another banner here," Bone said. "There's not another fan base out there that deserves that. I don't care about the other things, winning ball games and championships- that's why we all play, and that's what I want to do here."