Tamara Seda has no doubts what her life would have been like if she had not started playing sports, which eventually led to a Division 1 scholarship offer to play basketball at The University of Texas at El Paso.
“In my hometown, a lot of females get pregnant at the age of 16,” said Seda, who is from Mozambique, a coastal country in southeast Africa. “I started playing sports and I kind of drifted away. If I wasn’t playing sports, I’d probably be one of those girls back home.”
Seda is the lone senior on the 2017-18 women’s basketball team. The starting forward has become a fan favorite for her propensity to block a shot and then wag her finger back and forth to the crowd like Dikembe Mutombo, a fellow African native who played center in the NBA for 18 years.
“It’s the adrenaline,” Seda said of why she loves basketball. “It’s 40 minutes, but you can go up to two or three hours depending on how good the game is and anything can change in a split second. One minute is a lot (of time) and a lot can happen in one minute.”
Her desire and ability to lead caught the attention of UTEP women’s basketball coach Kevin Baker.
“Tamara has been an absolute pleasure to coach,” Baker said before he launched into a list of her positive attributes starting with a team-first attitude. “Tamara is the perfect combination of work ethic, class, humor, and drive to be the best she can be at all times. She is any coach’s dream.”
Seda’s college-playing career has not always been smooth. She was injured twice as a junior college player at Seward County Community College in Liberal, Kansas, before she transferred to UTEP as a sophomore. She said her recovery was difficult because it was physical and mental. She initially had self-doubts, but eventually realized she had to work her way through adversity.
Off the court, Seda is a business management major. She picked that major because it offers her job flexibility and an opportunity to lead. She has been successful in the classroom earning a spot on the C-USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll in 2016 and 2017.
In her spare time, Seda likes to cook, hang out with friends and binge watch “Game of Thrones.”
Seda said cooking is fun and relaxing. She likes to try new recipes from around the world and enjoys sharing them with her teammates. About her only criteria for a recipe is that it has be able to be prepared quickly. She said her teammates will vouch for her cooking prowess. They especially enjoy her variations of fried rice.
“They’re always in my room trying to eat something,” Seda said with a chuckle.
As Seda reflected on her senior year at UTEP, she talked about the life-changing impact of an athletic scholarship on her life. She said her parents did not have the means to send her to college, even one close to home. She said she was grateful for the opportunities her UTEP scholarship has provided.
“It’s huge. It’s huge,” Seda said of the effect. “I’m very thankful. It’s good to be in the position I’m in today. I look at the people that don’t have this opportunity and it’s a shame.”
Seda’s main goal, after she is done with basketball, is to return to her hometown and create an organized, sponsored children’s basketball program.
Raise the Pick: This is the second article in a series about UTEP student-athletes who share their unique stories and mention how athletic scholarships have made a difference in their lives. Each of these students reflects on the value of their UTEP experiences and the opportunities they create for the future.
Visit minerathleticclub.com to learn more about the Raise the Pick campaign.
Author: Leonard Martinez – UTEP Communications