NEW BRITAIN - In just a matter of days, New Britain High School alum Inanna Rice will be packing up her belongings, photos of friends and her basketball shoes for the new adventure that awaits.
But before she leaves for Mitchell College, where she will continue to pursue her basketball career, Rice was one of the six recipients of the 2018 Osgood Shootout Scholarship, joining Adele Carr, Chelsea Anthony, Erasmus Gunawan, David Rybczyk and Jaylen Rivera.
“The event itself is amazing,” Rice said. “Just seeing people I’ve grown up with and help me get to where I’m at now, playing with each other, having fun, people coming together. People come from different places come to New Britain using our gym, to reconnect. I think it’s great.”
Rice has been participating in the Osgood Shootout ever since she was a sophomore at New Britain, but she was a spectator well before she even entered high school.
“Before, the Shootout was at Osgood Park,” Rice said. “I used to go to the park watch and when it moved to my school I was like, ‘why not?’ and I started to participate.”
Other than the location of the Shootout, another factor of her participation was Darwin Shaw, the Director of the Osgood Shootout Basketball Tournament and an assistant coach for the New Britain boys basketball program.
“Coach Shaw has done so many things for our community,” Rice said. “When he was younger until now, he’s still trying to give everyone a passion, something to look forward too. He’s a great person. For me, I’m coming to support him because that’s what it’s all about, giving back and just looking up to someone like that. Just giving back to the community is really dope.”
Rice believes without Shaw and the community she wouldn’t be where she is today.
“Without me living where I live, with a basketball court around the corner, I would have never even tried to pick up a ball,” Rice said.
She started her basketball career at the New Britain YMCA when she was just 7 years old. It was the place Rice began to develop her skills on the court. She hasn’t stopped since
“When I started playing, I played coed with the boys,” Rice said. “My mom told me that I wasn’t going to be average. I just wanted to play. I wanted to play the best that I could at my age. I didn’t care that they wouldn’t pass me the ball, I just fell in love with the game. Then in my second year, I was eight, the boys were used to me. They were welcoming, they knew that I could play.”
There were also some teachable moments. Playing a sport for the last 11 years means wear and tear on the body as Rice learned this past year in her final season as a Hurricane.
“After I got hurt I thought it was over for me,” Rice said. “I’ve seen it too many times. I’ve seen teammates tear ACL’s. Every season there’s always someone on my team that gets hurt, but I never except it to be me. Usually I just brush it off and keep going, but once I felt that pain I thought it was over. “
Rice ended up missing six games in her senior season due to a left knee injury, but with the help of her teammates she was able to finish where she started - on the court.
“My team helped me see the brighter side,” Rice said. “They told me to rest for college and that I wasn’t done yet. It was just a setback, I wasn’t failing. So I just pushed through it. The pain was unexplainable but I’m glad that’s over.”
Healed and healthy, Rice is ready for the next chapter in her life and her basketball career.
“I’m so so so excited, I have a rush and I can’t wait,” Rice said. “When I went to Mitchell, I felt the fit. The coach was really welcoming, everyone on the team was really welcoming and everyone has the same mindset. It’s not only about basketball, they have my major.”
The education of the school has always been a key factor for Rice, just as much as basketball has.
“What’s my fall back, what do I want to do when I grow up?,” Rice said. “They have criminal justice there, so hopefully I get far with that. Mitchell, just suits me in so many ways that I couldn’t not chose that school.”
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org