By Scott Latta
UA Media Relations
Courtney Strauthers may be one of six freshmen on the Alabama women’s basketball team, but before she was ever wearing a basketball jersey, she was sporting a different uniform??an NFL jersey.
Strauthers’ father, Thomas Strauthers, was a star defensive end at Jackson State in the early 1980s. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1983, and played eight seasons in the NFL for Philadelphia, Detroit, and Minnesota.
“I actually have a picture of me and my brother when we were younger with the uniform and it was touching the floor,” she said. “If I put it on now I think it would probably fit a little better.”
Though her father played in the league until 1990, Strauthers was only around for the last four years of his career.
“I remember a little bit of it,” Strauthers said. “He has tapes at home and I watched a couple of those, and he had pictures and stuff like that. He played eight or nine years and stopped because of his foot. My brother remembers him a lot more; he has football cards with autographs on them.”
But the athletic genes didn’t come just from her father. Strauthers’ mother, Jennifer Strauthers, played basketball at Arkansas College, which is now Arkansas State University.
“She was always talking about stories in high school, and she talked about her college experiences and stuff and told me that it’s not going to be a walk in the park and that I need to be ready,” Strauthers said.
At Shiloh High School in Snellville, Ga., Strauthers led her team to three straight Georgia State Tournament appearances, including a Sweet Sixteen her junior year. She finished her career with the school’s all-time record in career blocks, and was a rebound short of averaging a double-double for her high school career.
Though she ran track and competed in the triple jump and 400m dash, for Strauthers, it wasn’t a matter of if she was going to play collegiate basketball, but where.
“I never really played other sports,” she said. “I tried track my sophomore year but I stopped doing that and I started playing basketball when I was in sixth grade I started playing rec ball, then I started playing AAU ball in ninth grade.
“I’ve always loved basketball, it just came natural to me. I just loved the game and it was always something I wanted to do.”
Growing up, she said, the former McDonald’s All-American nominee and Wendy’s High School Heisman nominee often chose playing with her brother and his friends than with other girls, often to the disdain of her mother.
“I was still young when my dad was playing football, but I still grew up around sports,” Strauthers said. “My brother played, he didn’t make the school team, but he would play outside and I would still go outside and play with the boys. My mom didn’t want me playing with the boys but I was still always out there playing with them.”
Over her career, Strauthers ranked in the top five in the state of Georgia in rebounding. She was a three-time All-County honoree and was named the Female Athlete of the Year at Shiloh her senior year. After spending the first year of her high school career on the freshman team, Strauthers spent the next three on varsity, and became a starter by the end of her second year.
The level of competition in Alabama’s conference, she said, is what drew her to the Capstone.
“A chance to play in the SEC, for one,” she said. “It’s a good school and I like the academics, I like how they pay attention to the academics with study hall and I wanted to be part of history and plan on making a difference, to come to a team that I can help.
“I feel really comfortable with the team, and hopefully we can just go further. We have a good opportunity this year and we all want to make a difference and we want to go out and fight and show people that the women’s basketball team is here too and not just the football team and not everybody else, and just try to make a difference here and I think we can do that.”