Keynote Speaker

Fruits of Her Labors

Alana Beard used a strong work ethic to lead her high school to two state titles.
Alana Beard used a strong work ethic to lead her high school to two state titles. (By Toni L. Sandys -- The Washington Post)
Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Washington Mystics guard Alana Beard has followed the same philosophy since her basketball career began to blossom at Louisiana's Southwood High: Work now, Play later.

"Everything you do now is setting yourself up for later," she said. "You never know what the future holds."

Beard, today's keynote speaker, knows the demands placed on successful teenage athletes. She led her high school to two state titles and was one of the nation's most sought-after recruits before accepting a scholarship to play for Duke. She's entering her third season as a professional basketball player in the prime of her career, after playing in her first All-Star game and leading the Mystics in scoring last season, averaging 14.1 points per game.

"I see myself as a role model because I think being a professional athlete makes you a role model -- it just comes with the territory," said Beard, 24. "My advice would be to be successful, you have to work as hard as you can."

Beard has certainly done her share of work on the court. She plays year round, spending summers with the Mystics and heading overseas in the offseason to play for a team in South Korea and tour as a member of USA national team.

But Beard also knows she can't make a living forever playing the game she loves, which makes her degree in sociology even more important.

"I don't know where I'll be a few years from now," Beard said. "But right now, I'm working as hard as I can so in the future, I'll be in a good situation."

-- Jon Gallo

© 2006 The Washington Post Company