In most cases, being called a snake is a bad thing.
When Abilene High coach Terri Aston uses the nickname with sophomore point guard Trakeyna Roberson, it’s meant and accepted as an extreme compliment.
Roberson, who has spent the past two years establishing herself as one of the top point guards in the area, has a humility and selflessness to her game that can mask the damage she’s inflicting on the opposition. And often, it’s only after you look at the postgame stat sheet that you realize the impact AHS’ silent assassin actually had.
“It’s an inside joke, but I call her ‘Snake’ because she hurts people quietly,” Aston said. “A snake can reach up and bite you at any point, and you don’t realize how tough and how hard her bite is, but her bite is detrimental to any team. She’s a special kid.”
With a quiet and unassuming nature, Roberson is something of a reluctant star. It’s not uncommon to see her pass up an open driving lane or shot to get one of her teammates involved.
But with a team that depends on her for offense and a knack for getting to the rim and finishing, Roberson is the Lady Eagles’ leading scorer almost every game.
Averaging 14.6 points per game — up from 7.7 a year ago — Roberson does what needs to be done on the scoring front. But it’s clear from both her play, and at times her coach’s frustration, that she wears the “go-to girl” mantle hesitantly.
“I have to constantly tell her to stop passing the basketball because sometimes she has a wide-open layup and she wants to get her teammates involved when it’s just not the best opportunity to do that,” Aston said. “So she’s a kid that’s determined to get the other four players on the floor involved some way, some how.
“Even though I think she knows and everybody knows that she can do it, she’s not the type of player that wants all the glory of it. She wants to make sure those other four girls are getting what they deserve on the floor as well.”
That’s a quality that endeared Roberson to her teammates last year on a senior-laden roster. Her breakout freshman campaign, which also included averages of 2.7 rebounds and 2.8 steals per game, came while sharing the court and spotlight with older, more established teammates.
And while her ability and play often caused her to stand out, her attitude and demeanor made her “one of the girls.”
“At first, I was really nervous actually,” said Roberson, who goes by K.K. “But they just treated me as if I was a senior myself, and they didn’t think of me as a freshman because they felt like I was on the same level with them. So they were really supportive and helpful.”
Now sharing a starting lineup with juniors Alyssa Washington, Destiny Potts, Tevyan (T.J.) Jones and Jaycee Johnson, Roberson continues to defer to teammates when she can. But she’s gaining a better appreciation for her role as a scorer — and a better understanding of that role’s importance to her team’s success.
“I’m just more of a passive person. I like to get my team involved and not feel like a ball hog,” Roberson said. “I usually don’t try to start scoring until I feel like my team needs me. My problem last year is I never looked to score.
“(I’ve gotten better about) not being afraid to take a really risky shot. Last year, I didn’t really try to shoot as much or score as much, but this year I just feel more confident in my ability.”
That’s music to Aston’s ears.
As a coach who places great value on the point guard position and has sky-high expectations for her point guards, Aston pushes Roberson hard to maximize her talents.
But she only does so because she knows how good Roberson is and can be, and she so badly wants her star guard to reach her potential.
“What people don’t understand is that from the stands it may look like she’s being rude or something, but we have a close connection off the court, and it’s much more than just that,” Roberson said. “I understand where she’s coming from and I know what she wants from me, so I like how hard she is on me. Sometimes I wish she was harder.
“She definitely sees (my potential). She’s always calling me and telling me things I should do and what I need to do. She’s always … trying to get me (noticed by) schools and everything. She works hard for me, so I really appreciate that.”
And Aston appreciates all ‘Snake’ brings to the table — on and off the court.
“I saw her as an eighth-grader and I knew she’d be something special,” the coach said. “You can never have too many point guards, so being able to find a point guard that you can build around as a coach, it’s something that every coach wants. It’s a must for a program. So being able to have her come in and being able to build around her has been a blessing.
“K.K. is guarded by the best defender every game. K.K. has to also guard the best player every game. So with that being said, it speaks volumes that you’ve got a kid sitting under 5-5 at almost 700 points a little past halfway through her sophomore year, just within reach of 1,000 points. You’re talking about a super special player.”