By Madisen Carter
After three years, Annelise Ito has made her way back to the game of basketball as one of Unlimited Potential Basketball’s newest Player Development Coaches. Ito grew up playing both basketball and soccer, and when she was in the ninth grade, she made the decision to focus on just basketball. She was surrounded by the game of basketball her entire life as both of her parents and brother played the game, and because of that, Ito said it just felt right to continue her basketball journey.
Ito graduated from Campolindo High School where she was a three-year varsity player for the girls basketball team. She unfortunately missed her senior season due to an injury, but that did not shy her away from the game as she then attended Diablo Valley Junior College for one year where she led the conference in scoring and had her number retired on the Wall of Fame in the DVC gym. After her one season with DVC, Ito transferred to the University of California, Riverside. As a Team Captain, Ito helped lead the Highlanders to the 16-0 conference run, but unfortunately was not able to play in the NCAA Tournament due to a season ending knee injury her senior season.
When Ito moved back to the Bay Area after college, she worked out with Coach Packie Turner at UPB to help prepare her for a professional career overseas. Ito played one season in Oliveira De Azemeis, Portugal and averaged 25 points and 14 rebounds per game. She was able to score a career-high 42 points before suffering a career ending injury in March of 2019.
Ito said that her career ending injury was tough and that injuries for any athlete can take a toll on not only physical health, but mental health as well. Although her injuries ended her professional career in basketball, Ito said it had brought her many opportunities and allowed her to explore other options in life. It also allowed her to view the game from a different angle.
“I would say some of the best advice I could give is just about perspective. I learned how to be a much better teammate when I wasn't able to play. I learned how to encourage and I saw the game from a different angle, which really allowed me to become a better player in so many ways,” Ito said. “Not even as a teammate, but also seeing the game from a different point of view. [For example,] seeing [and] hearing what the coaches are saying on the bench in certain situations. So I really got to learn about basketball.”
Now that three years have passed, Ito is now working full time as a Special Education teacher at Mills Highschool in Millbrae. Along with her full time job, Ito decided she is ready to get back on the court, but now on the training side as a Player Development Coach at the UPB facility. She said that Packie reached out to her about the opportunity to be a part of the UPB Team, and she felt encouraged to take the position. She has been with the team since the middle of September.
“I knew that training was always such a joy. Seeing the kids take one little thing that I say and implement it and improve on something that they've been working on for so long, I can't even describe how wonderful it is to see,” Ito said.
Ito said being back in the gym has been incredible, and she did not realize how much she missed basketball until she stepped foot in the facility. She has enjoyed seeing familiar faces come into the gym, meeting the new trainers, and seeing how much UPB has evolved since she trained at the facility a few years back. We are excited to have Ito on the UPB Team and to see her get back around the game she grew up loving.
“Basketball has shaped me into who I am today. You know, I wouldn't be who I am or where I am without the game of basketball… All of these things that I would have never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would be able to do, [I get to do] just through playing and being dedicated to a game. I've also found such a sense of community,” Ito said. “What you put into this game is really what you get out. It's much more than just a sport, It's really a way of life. So I'm just so grateful because I look at my life and [realize that] basketball really had a hand in every single decision I've made or every single opportunity I've had.”