“I think in anything that you do, if you don’t put time in and you’re not willing to work and willing to do your best … ,” Bird said before finding the right analogy. “It’s like an essay. If you don’t take your time and work on it, you’re not going to have a good outcome or a good grade. And the same thing in basketball, if you don’t practice hard, you’re not going to do good in the game and it shows.”
Purnell Swett’s senior standout relentlessly puts in the time and effort — and it shows.
Bird’s achievements in the classroom and on the playing fields earned her February’s Mountaire Farms/The Robesonian Scholar Athlete of the Month award. The AOTM program’s mission is to highlight male and female senior student-athletes within Robeson County who carry a 3.0 GPA or higher. Nominees need to also be recognized by their coaches for outstanding sportsmanship and perform with superior ability in athletic competition.
“It is tough to be academically stable and have time devoted in sports and stuff,” Bird said. “I think it’s definitely an accomplishment (to win the award).
“My family really pushed me to be academically … you know, they’re always checking up on my grades. My coaches do the same thing. They push me to do my best.”
While carrying a 4.09 GPA throughout the school year, Bird, a member of Swett’s BETA club, yearbook committee and National Honor Society, has provided top-notch performances for the Rams.
On the golf course last fall, Bird drove, chipped and putted her way to an appearance in the NCHSAA 4A state golf championships at Pinehurst. She placed 36th overall with a two-day output of 176. All the more impressive, she has barely two years of experience on the links.
“Golf-wise, I didn’t expect that,” Bird said. “I mean, regionals was an accomplishment, but states … I was like ‘whoa’.”
Bird, the daughter of James and Shannon Bird, hasn’t missed a beat during basketball season, as the senior is in the midst of a banner final year of hoops for the Lady Rams.
Bird has shattered school records and set career-highs as the Rams gritted through the regular season to a third-place finish in the Southeastern Conference standings with a 5-5 league mark, which included a historic win over county rival Lumberton. Swett’s 52-43 win over the Lady Pirates on Jan. 24 snapped a 34-game losing streak to Lumberton.
“It’s been awesome,” Bird said of her senior season. “I think from last year to this year I’ve stepped up more and it’s because I know this might be my last year (playing basketball).”
Individually, the double-double threat has notched a number of milestones this season. She hauled in a school-record 22 rebounds in a win over Hoke one week and poured in a career-best 40 points on the Lady Bucks the next.
But rebounds and points are just a portion of what Bird provides for Swett.
“Laura gives 100 percent on the court and demands the same from her teammates,” Swett coach Danyel Locklear said. “Laura stands out amongst all she comes in contact with, but is the most humble individual you could meet.”
Once basketball season wraps up — state playoffs start this week — Bird will get back on Lumberton’s Pinecrest Country Club and other area courses.
“I’ll be working with coach Jamie (Locklear) a lot,” Bird said. “It will really be like I’m playing a sport because every day I’ll be going on the course.”
Bird has committed to play golf at her hometown’s University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
And that might not be all.
On the heels of a standout senior season on the hardwood, Bird has been talking with the UNCP women’s basketball staff about considering dual-sport duties for the Lady Braves.
She plans to enter the school’s pre-dental program.
“I’m looking forward to going to UNCP,” Bird said.
Reach Sports editor Kaleb Roedel at (910) 272-6111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.