Jaide Vavra is not your typical college basketball player. National Park College’s 5-6 sophomore guard scored 14 points Thursday night to help the Nighthawks defeat South Arkansas Community College, 71-58.
That’s not bad for a single mom, who is working her way through junior college to become a nurse.
Vavra is a former all-state player and 4-year starter for the Centerpoint Lady Knights. She played her final regular season home game at “The Kettle” Thursday. Unless something unexpected happens, Vavra could be playing her last college game next Monday night at Arkansas State Mid-South.
“I had a couple of options to play college ball after high school,” says Vavra. “I played four years of AAU ball for Marvin Moody (GNP women’s coach). My mom had been sick, and I wanted to stay close to home. Picking National Park College was the obvious choice for me.”
Being a single mom isn’t a setback
It’s been anything but a smooth ride at the Hot Springs college for Vavra. Becoming a mother between seasons wasn’t a setback, but a delay in her basketball career.
“After having my son, I was still working and going to school,” says NPC’s two-time defensive player of the year. “I was really nervous at first in regard to playing basketball. There was definitely some drama. My Mama (Amanda Dunn) has helped me in so many ways. This season we’ve been getting home at three, or four in the morning. Mama keeps him overnight. I’m blessed with an amazing support group from my Mama and Dad (Shane Dunn) and friends.”
The current basketball season has been filled with adversity for colleges across the nation because of COVID-19, and NPC is no exception. The Nighthawks have been fortunate that only one player had to miss two weeks after coming in contact with the virus.
Nighthawks’ chemistry getting better
Moody’s team lost four players at the semester break, but fortunate to get Vavra, Imani Honey and Katie Wathall back on his roster.
Honey converted 11 of 12 free throws and scored 15 points in Thursday’s win over the Stars. Freshman India Akins led the winners with 17 points.
“We got off to a pretty rocky start for sure,” said Vavra. “With some girls leaving, and some returning, the chemistry was a work in progress. We’re just now starting to know and learn how to play with each other.
“Last season I think we only lost one home conference game, and had a winning record. Five players graduated from that team. The only returnees were Imani, Katie and me. We had get-togethers, go out to the lake, and have sleepovers at somebody’s house. It’s all different this year with COVID. The girls can’t go to the gym if the boys are practicing. Between school, work and basketball, I’ve been so lucky.”
The Nighthawks improved to 5-10 beating South Arkansas, and Vavra expects her team to sneak into the postseason tournament.
“I think we’ll be carrying some momentum into the tournament if we make it,” she said.
Vavra is not ruling out another season, or two of college basketball.
“Nobody has contacted me. If the opportunity came, and they’d work with me in regard to the baby, I’d love to continue playing.”