By Amy Salvatore
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Values are defined as a person’s principles or standards of behavior, one’s judgment of what is important in life. As West Virginia University senior Averee Fields grew up, significant values were instilled throughout her life, and she couldn’t have asked for a greater gift. As a young girl, Fields was always willing to give back to others in need, and those values have stayed with her as she made her way to Morgantown to fulfill her dreams of becoming a collegiate basketball player.
A native of Murray, Kentucky, Fields’ mother, Sabrina Hooper, was an assistant coach at the collegiate level. Fields relied on the community for support, and for her friends’ families to watch over her and her older sister, Shamika, while her mother traveled with the team. Growing up in a tight-knit community, Fields always had the desire to help others in need.
“I think that is what my mom has instilled in me,” Fields said. “When we needed help, people were there to help us, and now it is my social duty to help others. When I have the opportunity and time to give back to others, it is definitely something I want to do.”
During her elementary school days, Fields visited a nursing home every Friday to talk with the elderly and help brighten their day with her glowing and positive attitude. It wasn’t until she arrived at WVU that she realized social work was an area where she could help others the most and still be able to have a family.
“It was definitely in college where I saw that social work was the area where I could help the most, and still be able to have a family and raise foster children myself,” Fields stated. “Although, there is kind of a misconception that there are not children in America that need a lot of help. I want to be able to help people around me, and that has transformed into ways that I can help the community as well.”
Fields was also influenced by her mom’s involvement in her church at a very early age.
Giving back to the community was something that was natural throughout her life. It was never something that she was told to do, but she was always willing to lend a helping hand to others around her. Most notably, Fields has been involved with Stepping Stones in Morgantown, which is an organization that helps people with special needs.
“Special needs is a different kind of population. You have to communicate with them in a better way, in a simpler way. It definitely makes me slow down and appreciate what I have,” Fields said. “You see someone who is so excited to shoot a basketball, and it humbles you and makes you realize that you do live a good life.”
Fields’ experiences at Stepping Stones has allowed her to sit back and enjoy her time at West Virginia, especially in regards to basketball. Basketball has always been a major part of her life. Her mother was an assistant coach at Idaho and Murray State, and being able to play at the Division I level has been a dream come true for Fields.
“I knew as soon as I was in fourth grade, when there was an organized team, that I was going to be playing on it. There was no question,” Fields said. “Actually, the surprise was that I started to play soccer in third grade, but I stopped after my freshman year of high school because I wanted to focus on basketball. I knew that basketball was going to take me further, and I was going to be able to compete at a higher level with basketball.”
In her senior season at WVU, the 6-foot-1 forward has taken on the leadership role for the Mountaineers. Fields’ teammates see her leadership skills every day at practice. She has enjoyed teaching the underclassmen what they have to do to be successful. If someone is having a bad day, Fields’ positive attitude constantly keeps the team moving in the right direction.
“Averee leads us through everything. She is probably one of the greatest leaders that we have on the team,” senior guard Linda Stepney said. “Whenever we are having a bad practice, she is always there to pick everybody up. She’s not going to aggressively flush you out, but she is there to talk to you and motivate you. That’s what everybody loves about her.”
WVU coach Mike Carey also agrees that Fields has brought a great presence to the team over the last four years.
“She always comes to practice with a smile on her face, and she works extremely hard. She is always positive and has positive things to say to her teammates and everybody around her,” coach Carey explained. “Off the court, she looks out for people less fortunate than her. She comes from a great family and she will continue to be a great person.”
In the near future, Fields has considered graduate school at West Virginia and has looked to develop her career in the social work field. However, Stepney begs to differ.
“I tell her all the time that she is going to get drafted. We both have grown as players, but Averee has grown tremendously on the court. It’s night and day. She doesn’t know if she wants to play yet, but I tell her that she’s going to get drafted,” Stepney explained.
As the doors continue to open for Fields, Carey believes that her well-rounded personality will allow her to accomplish great things in life.
“There is no doubt in my mind that she will go on and be very successful whether it is with basketball or in her academic career,” coach Carey explained. “She has a great personality and everybody in the community and at WVU love her. She has great things in store for her.”
Over the last four years, Fields has gone above and beyond as she donned the Old Gold and Blue, and she has continued to leave a mark on the WVU community that will always be remembered forever.
“I definitely accomplished everything – being a champion, getting a ring and beating some of the top teams in the country along with some of the best players that are in the WNBA now. It’s been an awesome experience,” Fields explained.