Candice Nkoy doesn't take time to pirouette while driving the lane to the basket, but she could.
The 5-foot-6 sophomore for Rowland Hall performed ballet for 13 years before leaving to focus on basketball. Described by coach Bill Tatomer as a tough guard, she relies on her ballet background to make a big impact for the Winged Lions.
"Ballet is a lot tougher than it looks," Nkoy said. "In addition to being flexible, you need to have a lot of strength training and good footwork."
Nkoy is taking the unusual cross-training to basketball, where her 60 points entering this week lead the team. More important, she is leading the team in steals with 27. Tatomer believes that her ability to pick apart other teams makes her a special talent for Rowland Hall.
"She is tenacious with a lot of God-given talent," he said. "She takes full advantage of her strength and speed and makes a big impact for us."
Nkoy believes that years of ballet have given her the strength to avoid injury and heal quickly. She also credits the ballet experience for helping her average 8 points per game.
"I don't get hurt," she said. "When you know you're not going to get injured, it's easier to go hard at the basket."
Nkoy is a quiet player who leads by example in her second season under Tatomer. She defers to the seniors and but fights for every ball. She said she relishes stealing the ball from players who don't defend it and is willing to dive to the hardwood to give her team the advantage.
"She fights from tipoff to the final buzzer," Tatomer said. "Her ability to handle adversity is what makes her a special player."
Nkoy believes that a successful year for the Winged Lions starts with the players practicing hard and giving their best every time they take the court. She knows they can improve only by playing the best teams and wants to be challenged in every game.
"Even if we get beat, providing we play to our full potential, I know that we'll have a great season," she said.
"That and beating Waterford," she added with a smile.
Meet Candice Nkoy
Her brother Chris is a starter for Rowland Hall's boys basketball team.
She performed ballet for 13 years before focusing on basketball.
Nkoy is also on Rowland Hall's track team, where she competes in the 100, 200 and 400.