A great leader on and off the court.
Camila Tapias is an admirable, young, Colombian basketball player. At just 25 years old, she already has a Master's Degree in Public Administration from George Washington University while continuing her career as a prominent basketball star. We decided to communicate with her to hear a little bit about her experience playing basketball in the United States and how her sports career has gone hand-in-hand with her academic success. She began her sports career when she was only 5 years old in her hometown of Bogotá, Colombia; first at the basketball academy Piratas and later at the Pumas Club where she did most of her skill development. Throughout these developmental years, Camila was accompanied by her father José Tapias who, at that time, was the coach of the Piratas de Bogotá club in the Copa Costeñita league. Furthermore, she was guided by her mother, Jenny Pinilla, who was the captain of the National women's team in Colombia. In converstaion with Camila she stated, “My parents have always been part of basketball in Colombia as players and coaches. They have always wanted to leave a positive mark on the lives of others. Seeing their work, love, and dedication to basketball has inspired me to be a better person, player and now as a professional exercising my career."
While representing the Pumas Club and the Bogota Basketball League Camila had the opportunity to attend multiple National tournaments. The qualities that stood out the most were her tenacious habits on defense and her ability to shoot the ball around the three-point perimeter. She has also represented her country multiple times; internationally in the categories U-15, U-17, U-18 and twice with the Colombian National Basketball Women Team. Although, she confesses that her best experience wearing her country's team uniform was playing at home, in the 2011 South American U-17 tournament in Pasto, Colombia. Looking back on that memory, Camila shared: “We played the final against Argentina and competing at home brought a lot of emotion and pressure. However, it was time to represent our country in the best possible way. The whole game was very tight, but we managed to win the final by one point. On a personal level, I had a great tournament and in the final I scored 6 out of 10 three-point shots and two free throws for a total of 20 points. That last game brings back very beautiful and rewarding memories".
After finishing her studies at the Unidad Pedagógica in 2013, Camila decided to take her commitment with basketball to another level. She was admitted to the IMG Academy (a prestigious North American school specialized for high-performance athletes) thanks to the scholarship awarded by the Coach Shell Dailey. With her good performance during the season at IMG Academy (2013-2014), Camila managed to be recruited to play in the highest division of American college basketball, representing George Washington University (2014-2018). She was part of the Atlantic 10 Conference team from Division I of the NCAA, with which she achieved 3 regular season championships and 3 conference championships. "From a very young age I dreamed of playing basketball and pursuing my education at a higher level, that was going to make me give my best as a person and as a player" Camila said.
This year in May, Camila graduated from a Master's Degree in Public Administration with Approach in Crisis and Emergency Management. She tells us that she is already finishing an internship and that she is working on several projects related to her field. However, she doesn’t discard going back to playing high-level basketball or even representing the Colombian National team, if the opportunity arises. Camila states that "Every year at the University was an opportunity to grow from a personal point and as an athlete... There were six championships in four years. All of the things I have learned and lived helped me to believe, dream big, and to be a better leader on and off the court ”.
We also inquired a bit about how she spent her days in Washington DC (where she has lived for 6 years) during these times of pandemic. She expressed how she tries to exercise every morning, either in the company of her mother or friends through video call, in order to work on the topics of the internship for the rest of the day. "This has helped me stay active and feel good ... eating healthy and maintaining a routine have been a great help to [Camila]."
Camila recognizes that the opportunities and experiences that basketball has given her are innumerable. Therefore, her message for future generations is simple: “Regardless of the sport you play, you should strive 100%, have discipline, perseverance and a lot of love for the game. The reality is that often times talent is not the only thing that will lead you to be the best in your sport. You must be clear about your goals and work towards them. The results do not come just by wanting them, you have to pay the price and work daily to get them. ”