Spirit of giving

Photo by William Woody—Delta High School’s Skylyn Webb goes in for a layup during a game earlier this month. The senior guard helped organize teammates to donate their year-old basketball shoes to a New Mexico girls basketball team, Shiprock Northwest, after playing against the team and seeing the tattered condition of the Falcons’ players shoes.



The shoes stood out as much as anything. Old Converse shoes, riddled with holes, sliding and screeching across the floor. It made dominating Shiprock Northwest, N.M., difficult.

Skylyn Webb was a sophomore at Delta High School when she saw it.

“I felt like they must really love basketball,” said Webb, now a senior point guard for the Panthers girls basketball team, “if they’re still playing and having a good time in those types of shoes.”

Shortly after Shiprock’s season, a box showed up at Shiprock Northwest High located on the Navajo reservation in Shiprock, N.M.. Sent anonymously, it was for the Falcons basketball team. Barely used shoes. The previous year’s shoes worn by the Delta basketball team.

Skylyn Webb wanted her deed, a simple idea, to remain anonymous.

But you know moms. So proud. Willyn Webb couldn’t help but talk about how Skylyn came home after that game, saying, “Even last year’s shoes were better than what those were like,” Willyn said.

Maybe you wouldn’t know watching Webb with her tight, controlled dribble. She’ll duck her head, nudge by a defender and attack. She escapes the defense with speed she used last spring to place 10th in the 200-meter dash during the Class 4A state track meet. Then she jumps, rests for a moment in the air, usually a head above a defender. Suddenly stilled, she lofts a shot.

Her defense is nasty, swatting, alert.

“She’s a shy person inside, which people don’t realize when she’s on the court,” Willyn said. “Because she’s aggressive, she always gives 120 percent in everything she does.”

The cliche is 110 percent effort. In accordance with her mother’s words, Skylyn Webb breaks the cliche, makes something her own. She’s not the leading scorer looking for accolades. It’s hard for her to talk about Shiprock. Humble, slow words dribble out: “It was kind of hard to go hard on them. ... I just noticed their shoes throughout the game and later got the idea.”

She turns her head. Hard to talk about. Deeds are genuine when nothing in return is expected. Even more so when no one knows.

“She was just trying to help those girls,” Willyn said.

Would someone such as Fruita point guard Lauren LaBonde know? LaBonde faced Webb in Fruita’s 58-48 win earlier this season at Montrose High School. But she’s played against Webb since seventh-grade AAU days.

“She’s probably one of the best competitors I’ve seen at this level,” LaBonde said. “Once she gets you on her hip, it’s over. Most girls pull back. But she goes and she really creates; she’s not a ball hog.”

There’s a pattern to the giving. But don’t tell Skylyn. She’d rather it just happen, and then hide.

Yet praise rises.

“If there’s one kid who represents Panther basketball, it’s Skylyn Webb,” Delta girls basketball coach Matt Hamm said. “She works hard every practice; she’s in student council, a straight-A student.”

Straight A’s with speed. Webb also is the school-record holder in the 100 dash, said Panthers track coach Luis Meza.

“She’s one of the most competitive athletes I’ve ever coached in track, for sure,” Meza said. “She’d always look for the record, after every 100.”

And she’ll attend Fort Lewis College this fall to play basketball on athletic and academic scholarships.

She’ll be helped by having shot about 45,000 jump shots from last April until August.

“She just has a routine,” Hamm said. “She’s shot-clubbed them all up. You do so many each day and tally it, from spring to summer.”

This will be the first season in three years Delta does not play Shiprock. Webb’s junior season, the Panthers played Shiprock again, winning 92-17.

Although the score was similar, one thing had changed.

Shiprock was wearing some barely used shoes. Mostly Nikes.

Webb noticed her own pair. High-top Nikes.

Basketball is Webb’s passion. She admired the same in Shiprock, even to the point of the Falcons playing in tattered shoes. One idea led to new shoes for an entire team.

“I’m just glad they were more comfortable,” Webb said, “and had better shoes to play in.”


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