Junior Sarah Lewis and sophomore Cierra Trigg have established themselves as cornerstone members of the softball and basketball teams respectively. With the spring season progressing for each team, Lewis and Trigg hope their impressive play can help lead their programs to a championship.
This February, in honor of Black History Month, The Mercury wanted to showcase the talents of some of UTD’s best black athletes. Despite UTD’s student body being predominantly white and Asian, Black students have made an impact on UTD in different ways, especially in sports teams. However, maintaining a sense of unity on a team where many athletes don’t share the same cultural experiences can be a challenge. Sarah Lewis shared her experiences in dealing with that cultural divide.
“It’s interesting to me to be in a sport that is predominantly white,” Lewis said. “I think that definitely affected who I am, not in a bad way, but just in learning how to exist in that space, be comfortable with my identity and being who I am despite most people I’m playing against not looking like me. I think it’s taught me a lot about myself and just different people, different cultures, how to get along with people.”
Lewis had made an impact in the season’s first six games, with four hits, three runs batted in (RBIs) and a batting average of 26.7. A self-described offensive-minded player, Lewis’ early batting success may be just the start, especially after an impressive 25 hit and 16 RBI season in 2022. Lewis has played softball since she was 12, and her years of experience coupled with her love of the game made the decision to play in college easy. However, Lewis said that collegiate softball is completely different than what she was used to before. A starter in her freshman year, Lewis said those early years helped shape her into the player she is today, laying the groundwork for her to excel in her final season.
“There’s pressure as a freshman to perform, but you get used to it,” Lewis said. “It was definitely a good experience, and I enjoyed playing a lot in my freshman and sophomore year … last year was kind of a building year for myself, and I learned more about myself as a player. And I’m maturing in a lot of ways as a player, so I’m definitely looking to execute more as a player, increase my stats overall and just contribute in any way I can to the team.”
On the basketball team, Cierra Trigg has shined this season after riding the bench for the majority of 2022. Playing a total of 27 minutes and scoring only three points in 2022, Trigg has moved into an expanded role, establishing herself as an offensive weapon with 6.4 points per game and a team-leading 95.0 free throw percentage. Despite these impressive scoring stats, Trigg believes her true strength lies in defense. With 23 steals and eight blocks over the course of the season, Trigg hopes her skill on both sides of the ball can bring her team to victory as the playoffs grow near.
“Last year, I wasn’t as aggressive on defense, I pretty much only shot the ball. But this year, I’m trying to be that aggressive player,” Trigg said. “As the season’s gone by, I’ve even improved my offense from last year, so I feel like my game’s all around improved … I just try to do my role, I try not to step too far out of that. If I need to play hard defense, I’ll play hard defense. If I need to shoot the ball, I’ll shoot it … I just want us as a team to do better, and I want us to get that conference championship to be able to advance to the NCAA tournament.”
As the softball and basketball teams progress into the spring, both Lewis and Trigg hope their strong plays can bring their teams into the championships. But, beyond the sport itself, Lewis hopes her presence on the softball team can inspire other black athletes to carve out their own role.
“I hope in the future, and I already see it, but I hope in the future that more people of color are drawn to sports in general, because they can teach you a lot.” Lewis said. “So I hope that going forward, that more people of color participate in sports.”