By Mark Lizano, Aug. 31, 2021

Senior forward Rebecca Islas has returned to the CPP Women’s Basketball team this fall for the last season of her collegiate athletic career. For Islas, her athletic journey taught her how to bounce back from any obstacles that roll into her court.

Growing up in Boyle Heights, California, Islas’ basketball career took off when she was discovered in the seventh grade in a local community league, where she was one of the only girls in a boy’s league. When offered to play travel ball by a local coach who managed his own travel ball team in the area, she jumped at the opportunity. In travel ball, players are selected to play against higher level competition outside of their immediate area.

“I didn’t even know what travel ball was until I was introduced to it,” said Islas. “I played a lot of travel; I traveled everywhere. I traveled to Dallas, Vegas and other areas just playing tournaments and trying to get looked at.”

Islas started off her high school basketball career at Ribet Academy in Los Angeles, which she attended for three years. During her sophomore year, her basketball team won the Division 5a CIF title by a score of 47-27 over Orangewood Academy from Garden Grove. Islas finished her senior season at La Salle High School in Pasadena.

Islas intercepting a pass from the opposing team.

After high school, Islas ended up at Los Angeles Valley College where she attended for two years. She started realizing her full basketball potential in her sophomore year when she became the star player on the team.

“Those two years at Valley I grew up so much; I developed as a basketball player and as a person,” said Islas.

From Los Angeles Valley College she was recruited to play at CPP in 2018. In her first season, Islas averaged 12.2 points and 7.3 rebounds a game, and earned CCAA second team all-conference honors for the 2018-2019 season.

Islas missed the 2019-2020 basketball season due to personal reasons, followed by the cancellation of the 2020-2021 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While CPP athletes have not competed for over a year, Islas hadn’t been able to compete for almost two. Having to sit out for so long can be agonizing for an athlete, but Islas had the constant support of her family.

Islas goes head to head against an APU defender during the 2019 NCAA tournament.

“My mom, she took me to every tournament, she was putting so many miles on her car, she took me everywhere, she was super supportive,” Islas said. “Unfortunately, my dad passed away when I was going into my freshman year. He told me, ‘I want you to go far in school and basketball.’ That’s the main reason why I’m here attending school and playing basketball.”

Sitting out the past two seasons has provided Islas an opportunity to pursue her academic career even further. Already earning her undergraduate degree in sociology from CPP, Islas is now working toward her graduate degree in public administration at CPP, which she will complete in the spring of 2022. With her degree, Islas plans to pursue social work, specifically working with victims of sexual abuse.

“Basketball is the reason I am the person I am right now. Being a student-athlete is like a full-time job,” said Islas. “Relating things that I’ve learned on the court to my real life has helped me so much. I’m so disciplined with being on time or things that need to be turned in. Basketball has prepared me for real life.”

Featured image courtesy of CPP Athletics Department

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