By Madisen Carter
Keana Delos Santos grew up playing the game of basketball since she was just a little girl. Early on, she realized not too many young girls and women were playing the sport, and as she continued her basketball career, she looked up to NBA stars Stephen Curry and Dwayne Wade, but she questioned who was a female basketball player that she could look up to? She noticed that women’s basketball and many other women’s sports were not as popular and not covered as much as the men's sports, and she knew that was a problem.
Throughout the years, Santos has had a successful basketball career from playing at Miramonte High School with WNBA star and the first overall pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft, Sabrina Ionescu, to playing four years at Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah. Now as a Player Development Coach for the Golden State Warriors Basketball Academy and at Unlimited Potential Basketball, she hopes to pass down the love and passion she has for the game of basketball to the next generation of young women.
“So I think from there it kind of [made me want] to push more for women in sports because of course, that's a huge thing right now within the sports industry and how we're so undervalued, how the pay inequality is still prevalent to learn, people's voices still aren't being heard,” Santos said. “So I think just giving back to women and little girls [is] something that I'm super passionate about.”
Santos heard about UPB through Ionescu and learned that UPB’s lead trainer, Coach Packie Turner and UPB’s CEO Bianca Turner have the same vision for the future of women’s basketball: to get more young girls involved. Santos said one of her goals is to help young girls grow up in the sports industry and pave their way through it without letting what has happened in the past repeat itself.
“Just making a difference there I think is the main thing. Even if it's just one little girl, like if she's looking up to me [and is] inspired about my history of how I got to where I am today, that's the main thing that's important to me,” Santos said.
As a player development coach, Santos has many goals she would like to accomplish with her clients. She wants to continue to build relationships, help her clients gain confidence and most of all, be the inspiration that she never had growing up playing the game.
As a young woman, it can be intimidating playing a sport or even working in a sport that is known to be dominated by men, but it is more than capable to accomplish. Santos said there will be obstacles along the way, but if you give it 110% and walk in with confidence, you can do anything you put your mind to.
Watching women’s basketball is the easiest way someone can support the movement. Santos said recently it has been getting better and it seems that people are now realizing women’s basketball is just as exciting as men’s basketball. The more people are educated about women’s basketball and women’s sports in general, the more people will respect it.
UPB is excited to have Santos on the team and to help inspire young women in the game of basketball. Basketball can be beneficial in so many ways including building confidence, building onto life skills, and building relationships. Along with these benefits, Santos keeps playing basketball because the game is fun and continues to bring her joy.
“I think just everything [basketball has] given me, all the endless opportunities that [has] allowed me to travel and make friends, [it] really just brings me joy. I think those are the main things, just how much joy it gives me and [teaching basketball] doesn't feel like a job,” Santos said.