Maria Delgado represented Youngbloods at Junior National Level for several years attending St Angela’s for secondary education, eventually moving on to Barking Abbey Basketball Academy and then took her trade to the United States of America at Miles Community College. For the 2017-18 she signed for the University of Minnesota Crookston in NCCA Division 2. As a student at St Angela’s, she was a part of the two time National Schools title-winning side. During her time at Youngbloods, she was a member of the first Youngbloods Female team to reach the Basketball England Junior National Final Fours finishing in third place overall.
What has been the most interesting/exciting experience in Basketball?
The most exciting experience that I have had through basketball, is probably moving away from home and living out here in America. It’s helped me grow as a player and a person a lot. I have been able to meet new people, who will probably be in my life for a long time, and also have experienced different cultures and done new things that I probably would never get the chance to do if I was still at home.
What way did your time at Youngblood’s influence you?
My time at youngbloods influenced me in a number of ways both on and off the court. The coaches at the club allowed me to understand what it takes to be the best on-court and the life skills and values you need to have off the court to be a good role model and successful person in life.
My time at Youngbloods was very influential in my personal development, and also basketball development. The coaches really cared about us as a person first and made sure we were good people with good intentions and character. We learned about the value of what it meant to be part of a team and soon we became a big family and it was really important to me because I had more people that I could depend on and rely on for almost anything.
Even now, I haven’t played for Youngbloods for three years but I still am part of the family, and will always be one of Caroline’s girls “(and one of her favourite girls too)”
During my time at Youngbloods, I really learnt the importance of hard work, repetition and commitment. It was not just about me, I had a group of people that needed my full commitment all the time, I couldn’t skip practice because I didn’t feel like going, I had to be there for team and this life lesson had helped me in all areas of life. Like, being fully committed to my college teams, not just on the court but also off the court where I had to be committed to my studies too.
Also, the coaches always taught us that we couldn’t just wake up and be good, we had to get the reps, and no one else was going to do it for us (hence why Caroline made us do 100 lay ups almost every practice).
Is there anywhere in the club/in London that holds any special memories of your basketball days with us, or do you have a favourite memory of your time at Youngbloods?
There is a lot of places in Newham that holds special memories for me. One, in particular, was St. Angela’s, which was our home court during my time at Youngbloods. I remember spending my weekends there if I wasn’t playing games I would be watching all the other games during the weekend. I spent a lot of my summer there with teammates, we would take naps in between pre-season sessions, and if we weren’t doing that we were annoying Coach Caroline which was my number one favourite thing to do! Any time that I was with the team, we always had a good time, and that’s something that I really cherished!
What advice would you give to students/alumni for success in life during/after Youngbloods?
My number one advice is, always listen to the coaches, they really do know what they’re talking about, trust me. Even if coaches make you do the 100 layups every single practice, it does pay off in the end. Another thing is, time really does fly by. Eventually one day you won’t be playing basketball with the same teammates and coaches, you’ll look back and just have memories, so enjoy your time and have fun. Basketball is supposed to be fun, so make sure you’re having fun whether you are winning or losing.
Who/what has been most inspirational to you in your life?
A lot of people have inspired me in my journey so far. One of them is my mum of course, she’s such a strong person and no matter what situation God puts her in her faith remains strong and she never gives up, and this is something I had to learn to do in really tough situations especially when away from my home and family. My brothers are also my inspiration, it was because of both of them that I decided to play basketball, they are my biggest fans and always have my back with everything and anything.
All the coaches that have been part of my basketball career have inspired me to do better and be better. They believed in me and pushed me to get to where I am, and I owe them all a huge thank you for being patient with me and teaching me everything I know, not just with basketball but with life.