Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Ultimate team player: how walk-on Sarah Graves impacted Texas women’s basketball’s star-studded team

Skyler Sharp
Head coach Vic Schaefer talks with his team on March 24, 2024, after the Longhorns beat Alabama in the second round of the March Madness tournament.

The name Sarah Graves may not mean much to average fans of Texas women’s basketball. Yet, the once-walk-on sophomore guard impacts the team both in the practice gym and from the bench. 

Graves started playing basketball in her freshman year of high school following the advice of her track coach, but she didn’t hit the ground running. In fact, she was placed on the “C-Team” when she joined. 

“At first, I didn’t know what a travel was,” Graves said. “I didn’t know what a double dribble was. I was awful.” 

The summer after her first season, basketball became everything. Graves not only fell in love with the game, she
became obsessed. 

“That summer was just complete basketball, just a complete obsession,” Graves said. “I tend to get obsessed with things a lot and try to get really perfect at it.” 

By the time she left Keller High School, Graves had won back-to-back district titles and became a key focal point in the team’s offensive output. 

Graves originally envisioned herself attending a mid-major D1 basketball program. Yet, after finding associate head coach Elena Lovato’s information and sending a highlight reel, she decided to attend the University of Texas as a student, where she hoped to earn a walk-on spot with the team. Graves spent her freshman year as a walk-on player. She worked a part-time job to make ends meet while being a full-time student athlete. Graves tallied minimal minutes, but during the offseason, her teammates saw first-hand her commitment to perfection. 

“She really got everyone in the gym so much more this summer just shooting because of how much she loves the game,” senior guard Shay Holle said.  

Holle quickly noticed how Graves routinely lived in the gym, causing their bond to grow stronger especially because their schedules lined up perfectly. 

“Over this past summer, we became super close because we were the only two that didn’t have summer school, and so we would always go and get coffee,” Holle said. Even today, junior forward Aaliyah Moore can attest to how much time the sophomore spends in the gym before and after practice. 

“She’s always in the gym,” Moore said. “Literally always in the gym.” 

This season, Graves’ hard work was rewarded with a scholarship offer, allowing her to leave her part-time job. Her first call after hearing the news was to her parents.  

“My mother was the first person I called,” Graves said. ”She was crying more than me.”  To Holle, Graves is one of the driving forces behind the team’s success. 

“We would not be where we are or had any of the success we had if it wasn’t for Sarah and everyone else on our team,”
Holle said.

In a world where players constantly hop in and out of the transfer portal, Graves has elected to stay on the Forty Acres. Despite her little playing time, Graves has found a home at Texas. 

“There’s no reason to leave because Texas is the best of the best,” Graves said. “In everything we do.”

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About the Contributor
Emmanuel Ramirez, Senior Audio Producer
Emmanuel Ramirez is a journalism junior from Brownsville, Texas. Currently he works as the senior audio producer for Texan Overtime and previously was a general audio staffer. He enjoys throwing down on the grill and playing Smash Bros.