GERMANTOWN, Wis. - For most high schoolers, summer is a time to relax. However, a Germantown High School student is putting in hours of work – and it seems to be paying off.
When Kamorea "KK" Arnold is on the basketball court, she is always creating.
From passing to shooting – to an infectious and useful smile.
"Always have a joy for the game and always have those moments during the game when you have to smile. It’s basically all me," Arnold said. "Having a smile on my face might put a smile on a teammate’s face, which will help them get going if they’re having a bad game. If I’m having a bad game just have to smile through it and play through it."
This summer, Arnold is smiling a lot more. The soon-to-be junior is a finalist for USA Women's under 16 (U16) national basketball team. She is one of 34 players invited to try out for only 12 spots.
"I was super excited. At first, I was in shock because, of course, my first time going," said Arnold. "It means a lot. Especially all my hard work, seeing it pay off. And then me, just being able to represent Wisconsin. Just going down there, being me."
Being here means spending hours upon hours in the gym where she's getting help from former NBA player and Marquette standout Travis Diener.
"It just like feels great to have a person like here just to coach me who has been through it, been through it already," said Arnold. "He’s a great person to be around. Best trainer. He always gets you going if you’re frustrated, pull you up.
"I think that’s the next step in my life to try and give back and try to help the next generation become as good as they can be," Diener said.
It is a relationship similar to that of an artist working with an apprentice.
"He’s another me. But he’ll get serious at times. That’s when I’ll lock in with him, be with him on the same page always," Arnold said.
Travis Diener with KK Arnold
Now, Arnold can continue creating on a national stage – and that smile will continue to shine.
"Definitely be my toughest task, but I just got to have fun with it though," Arnold said. "I just feel great and it always motivates me to keep getting better and never settle for less, never try to say where I’m at, always be humble."
Arnold will find out Friday, June 18 if she is one of the 12 players selected to the team. If she makes it, she will participate in the FIBA Americas U16 Championship this August in Santiago, Chile.