EL DORADO – When asked if she was tired of talking about her incident with KSHSAA her senior year, Butler freshman Zayda Perez did not hesitated, responding with a one-word response: “No.”
That takes guts.
“I’m just honestly happy to get the opportunity to play as a Butler Grizzly,” Perez said.
Many are aware about what happened her senior year. KSHSAA suspended Perez due to paperwork not being filed with the state association and in February 2019, Maize South was without their point guard.
During the summer, Perez moved in with her father, who lived across from Maize South since 2007. However, KSHSAA never received a hardship waiver, making Perez ineligible the first 18 weeks at Maize South. Perez and Maize South appealed the suspension, it was lifted for the sub-state and Maize South had to vacate six wins.
“I come in with the mindset that you never know when your last game is going to be,” Perez said.
Perez’s actions speak through her play.
Before Barton, Perez was often a pass-first player, letting her play be dictated by getting her teammates involved. She may not have been starting earlier in the season, but those starter-like minutes were given to her.
She was 0-of-4 in her first ever college game but scored eight points by getting to the line.
"My coaches have been telling me to be more confident," Perez aid. "They know I am a good shooter."
It started to show against Barton. She scored nine points in the first half, tying a career high she set on Nov. 9 against Air Force Prep.
“Teams stopped guarding her and she had to take advantage of that,” Butler head coach Mike Helmer said. “She did that and made Barton pay.”
It’s all in the growth of yourself and as a player. To be confident when you’ve been shut down. She knows she’s good enough. That confidence is key.
“She has the ability to be a great shooter,” Helmer said. “She got caught up in, ‘Oh I’m going to be the greatest passer in the country. We have the utmost confidence in her ability.”
The Grizzlies are still learning how to play as a family. Having family only 30 minutes away can help with the growth and confidence.
“I love when my family comes to watch me," Perez said. "I have huge support system and I wouldn’t be where I am without them.”
Perez will continue to use her past to help her keep everything in perspective. She uses it as fuel to help Butler get back to Nationals.
“From what I went through my senior year, I come out ready to play every night,” Perez said. “I’ll never take a play off.”