By Kayla Curry
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Amber Battle, a junior guard for Texas Tech’s women’s basketball team, is living the dream of every overlooked athlete going from a small supporting role to leading her team.
Just last year, Battle was not named in any category as a leader for the Lady Raiders. She will hold leader positions for the team in more than one category at the end of the 2013-14 season.
The New Mexico native believes her success on the court came from the chance to get to play the game her way.
“I got the chance to get out there and be able to play my game,” Battle said. “Coach (Candi) Whitaker has really given me a great opportunity to get out there and just play.”
Tech brought Candi Whitaker, a former Lady Raider point guard, on board as head coach in May 2013.
Battle believes her preparation with Whitaker over the summer contributed to her breakout performance this season.
“The coaches were in the gym with us a lot,” Battle said thinking back before her success had started. “They were trying to get to know us and how we play. I just spent a lot of time in the gym preparing, because I knew I was taking on a pretty big role. I knew I had to work my hardest.”
Battle’s hard work has paid off this year. She is the No. 4 scorer in the Big 12 and in the top 10 in rebounding. Her athletic ability even gives her an edge when she goes out for the tip-off. The 5-foot-9 guard has won the tip five times against Big 12 forwards and centers who are 6-foot-3 or bigger.
Battle, who has gone from one start in her previous season to starting every game in her current season, said it has been an adjustment to the higher expectations this season.
“It was really different for me stepping into such a huge role,” Battle said, “because last year I felt like I didn’t really have a role, and now I’m a key player.”
Whitaker said Battle has been a consistently strong player for the team this year pushing the Lady Raider throughout the season.
“She’s a playmaker for us,” Whitaker said. “She’s a scorer for us and to my memory; I feel like every time but one that we’ve called her number, she’s scored. Just stepped up huge in every way this year.”
Battle said even though it was an adjustment, she has enjoyed the opportunity to step up as a key player.
“It feels good to be out there and surprise some people,” Battle said.
The guard, averaging 17 points a game, has certainly shocked Tech fans. She became the first Lady Raider to score 30 or more points since 2007 when she poured in 32 against Kansas State on Jan. 14. She also has five double-doubles this season and has scored double digits in 21 games.
Battle said she has loved getting the chance to make a name for herself this season.
The human development and families studies major said her biggest inspiration comes all the way from Albuquerque, N.M. Battle’s dad has been her biggest fan since day one.
“Just have confidence in myself on and off the court,” Battle shared as the best advice she has received from her father. “He just told me to be confident in myself and that I am my biggest competition. I have to work hard for myself.”
After the year the Lady Raider superstar has had, one would guess the goals she has for her remaining time in Lubbock would be all number-based. But as she has already proven, Battle is not a predictable player.
“I want to finish playing as hard as I can,” Battle said. “I want to prepare myself to be a senior leader and help my teammates grow on and off the court, while being the best person I can be.”