Basketball is her ticket
Tatiyiana McMorris was a fast-talking New Yorker from the Bronx. Assertive and aggressive, qualities that translate well on the court. Focused on proving herself. Wanting things her way.
That was McMorris freshman year. “The coaches couldn’t understand me when I talked,” she says. In her first three seasons, she started in 34 of 98 games and averaged 4.5 points a game. Now the senior guard is a team captain and starter, averaging 10 points per game, and Coach Terri Mitchell calls her the verbal leader on the floor.
McMorris is all about getting it done. The youngest in a family of five children, she was determined to go to college.
“Growing up, so many of my friends dropped out of school,” she says. “They got distracted. Basketball distracted me in a positive way. I knew I’d get to college through my athleticism.”
McMorris wanted to go away to school — far enough to be out of New York but close enough for her family to see her play.
After a visit to Marquette, the decision was made. Still, Milwaukee was enough of an unknown that the McMorris family thought she was going to school in the country until they came to watch “Tati” play at Marquette.
McMorris toughed out freshman year, learning the plays and how to practice at Division I level, getting to know her teammates and coaches. It was a big transition, she says. And then there was the academic side to tackle.
“Marquette broke me down and rebuilt me as a woman,” McMorris says. “I’m smarter. I know the game. I work hard. As a freshman I felt like I had to prove something. I was afraid to mess up. Now when I’m playing, my adrenaline is rushing and I think, ‘Give me the ball.’”
Marquette cost McMorris her New York accent. “My friends back home say I sound like I’m from the country,” she says and laughs.
McMorris is majoring in elementary education in the College of Education, hoping to follow in her sister’s footsteps.
“She is a fourth-grade teacher, and she’s so successful,” she says.
McMorris wants to have the same kind of impact. “When I go home, people look up to me,” she says. “I want to help kids so that they don’t turn out like my friends. I want to teach them that there’s so much out there to be focused on. You can’t be focused on negativity. You can’t let it happen. I want kids to get what I have, to have the opportunities I set myself up for at Marquette.” — JMM