By Abby Norman
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Growing up, children have a range of career plans that tend to change frequently as time goes on. For West Virginia University sophomore women's basketball player Averee Fields, a specific career path has always been front and center in her mind.
The Murray, Ky., native always envisioned a future with children and chose to major in social work with a minor in psychology when she made her way to Morgantown to not only fulfill her goal of playing Division I basketball, but also to fulfill her goal of becoming a social worker and foster mom for children in need.
"There is such a need for good foster care homes," Fields said. "A lot of people do it for the money and don't think about the kids. I really want to care for the kids who live in unfortunate homes and need a place for their parents to get back on their feet. Ultimately, I want to be a foster mother, but wherever God leads me, I'm just excited."
The 6-foot forward admitted that her dreams of working with children began at a very early age and were influenced greatly by her mom, involvement in her church and the passion seen in a certain television show.
"Since I was young I've always had a love for kids," Fields said. "I remember my mom loves to tell the story that I once told her, I wanted to buy some kids and she said, 'Averee don't say that!' because you're supposed to adopt. Even when I was younger I've always had that need and have come in contact with a lot of foster kids and kids that have been in the system. Even watching a show called Judging Amy, I know it sounds silly, but she was a social worker and I've always felt called to do that and help kids in bad situations."
Fields grew up around the game of basketball from a very early age as her mother Sabrina Hooper was an assistant coach at the collegiate level. When it came time to switch career paths, Fields saw firsthand the dedication her mom put into becoming the Deputy Director for the Tennessee Human Rights Commission.
"I think it is awesome because it wasn't her first option," Fields said. "She obviously wanted to coach, but she worked her way up to being the director and I think it's awesome to watch her. She got her master's by the time she was 40 and that was a big deal for her. Seeing how she is so determined and dedicated really shows me that I can do anything I want to do. It's definitely great to see her in such a high position and just how far she's come."
Taking what has been instilled in her from an early age, Fields has used that drive in the classroom where she has received many accolades in only a few short semesters at WVU.
"Averee is an extremely organized and conscientious student," said assistant director of student-athlete academic services Stephanie White. "She goes above and beyond as a student within the classroom, holds herself to a high standard and constantly works to maintain her 4.0 GPA.
"She establishes positive relationships with her instructors to make sure she maximizes her learning experiences. Professors love having Averee in class and typically express that to me if I am ever in contact with them."
With a season-ending injury to starter Asya Bussie in preseason practice, the WVU coaching staff did not have to look far for a replacement. The tenacity that Fields has displayed day in and day out, propelled her into the lineup as the forward has started every game thus far for the Mountaineers and is averaging 21 minutes, 6.0 points and 4.1 rebounds per game.
"First of all, Averee comes from a great family and is great person," West Virginia University women's basketball coach Mike Carey said. "What she brings to the team is that she is consistent, she is always ready to go, she is always ready to play and always has a positive attitude. Whether she is playing well or not playing well, she is always positive, always encouraging other people. Now a lot of players won't do that. If they are not playing well, they do not encourage anybody. But because of the type of person she is, she will encourage and she is just such a great person.
"It is great to have somebody like that on the team. She does a lot of the dirty work. She will take charges, dive on the floor, get a big rebound, get a big bucket or do whatever we need her to do for us to be successful."
As the West Virginia University women's basketball team traveled with children around a local store for the Angel Tree Project, Fields could not contain her excitement over the team's involvement in helping the Morgantown community during the holiday season.
Following the event, Fields posted on Facebook, "Today was so rewarding. Seeing a smile on a child's face might be the closest thing to heaven. I am so thankful for people and schools that reach out and bless the needy and I'm thankful I had the opportunity to be a part of it all."
From her involvement in the community to her place in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the role she plays as a part of the Mountaineer squad, Fields sets high goals and dreams that she is constantly working to achieve.