Parkland senior recaps her career success on the court

Christiana Young made a tremendous impact on her school and teammates after only one year at Parkland.

Parkland senior recaps her  career success on the court
March 16
10:06 2023

From here on out, if you look up the words dedication and toughness, a photo of Christiana Young should go right alongside them.  

Young, a senior point guard for the Lady Mustangs, helped lead her squad to a Central Piedmont Conference championship and a 20-7 overall record this season. Unfortunately for Young and her teammates, their season ended  with a 61-60 loss to Porter Ridge in the first round of the playoffs.  

What many people don’t know is that Young played this entire season with a torn left ACL, which she injured in September of last year. She led the conference in scoring and lost the player of the league honor by only one vote.

Young spent her first three seasons at Winston-Salem Christian (WSC) but came over to Parkland to finish out her prep career with head coach Ken Leak, who ironically recruited her to come to WSC before taking the Parkland job. She felt she could add her talents to a Parkland team that already had some dynamic players and do something special this season.

“My biggest thing was I wanted to put Parkland on the map and put them on my back and make them a better program than what it was,” said Young about her thoughts on Parkland before joining the team.  

The Lady Mustangs had a great start to this season by winning the Atrium Health Wake Forest bracket of the 33rd annual Mary Garber Tip-off Classic.

“I was nervous at first because it was my first year in public school and my first year with a new team,” said Young. “It felt really good to win and it made me realize that we can compete with anybody in the city.”

The Lady Mustangs got on a roll during the season and stayed at or near the top of the conference standings all year long. Young felt this team had the makings of a “state championship team.”

Losing that first round playoff game was a tough pill to swallow for Young due to the high expectations that the team had for themselves after a stellar regular season and conference title.

“I’d say a lot of missed free throws, a lot of turnovers that weren’t really necessary, but we played hard into double overtime and we ended up losing by one,” she said about why they lost the playoff game. “It wasn’t a terrible outcome, but it was something that we all learned from and can build on for next season.

“I was upset at myself. I was sad but I was happy at the same time because we showed everybody in the city what we were capable of. I was proud of my team and we just fell short.”

Young says she went through a lot during her three-year tenure at WSC. She credits her former coach for helping to build her into the player she is today. She tore her right ACL during her sophomore season that allowed her to watch the game from a different perspective. For her junior year, she had to endure a coaching change that put a lot of things in question. She chose a change of scenery to allow her to fully blossom her senior year.

It was a choice between QEA and Parkland as far as what school Young was going to choose to play her senior season. The decision-maker was her relationship with Coach Leak and the fact her deceased cousin used to attend Parkland and she wanted to honor him.

Young also eclipsed the 2,000-point mark for her career during the season. She says she was happy to enjoy that moment with her teammates and that is something she will never forget.

Coach Leak says he was eager to finally have Young play for him. Throughout the years, Leak continued to stay in contact with Young. When her junior season ended, Leak checked on her and Young was open for a change because she was not happy with her current situation. Leak invited her to spend the day with him at Parkland to get a feel for the school. After spending the day at the school, Young chose the Mustangs as her new team later that afternoon.

“I was just through the roof because I finally got my point guard because that’s what I refer to her as, my point guard,” said Leak about Young. “We started working out in the summer and I knew what Chris could do, but in the basketball community, people were doubting her due to the first ACL injury. They said she didn’t seem motivated anymore and they said she didn’t look happy.

“They said she lost a step and looked like she didn’t want to play anymore. She just wasn’t happy with her situation, but I knew just by letting her get somewhere where she can find her passion again, Chris was going to be Chris.”

Leak says he feared Young’s senior season was going to be lost after she tore her ACL in September. After speaking with her doctor, they determined that if she was able to handle the pain and lack of stability on the knee, she could play.

“Of course, people were like ‘that’s the season,’ but they didn’t know how determined she was,” Leak said about Young. “This kid went to therapy four days a week. “Just to know the kind of determination and heart she had on a torn ACL was something not too many people can touch.”

Leak says he started Young off slowly to start the season to get a feel of how her knee was going to respond. Once they took the training wheels off, Young really got into a groove offensively. Leak says he would have been happy with half of what Young gave him this season, so for her to perform as well as she did was an inspiration to him and her teammates.

The fact that Leak holds her in such high regard makes Young feel like she is a “great person,” she said. She feels having a coach that is constantly motivating her to be better, the least she could do was to give it her all on the court.  

Young says she will miss the relationships she has formed with her teammates. She has yet to make a commitment on where she will play her college basketball. Several schools such as Chowan, Virginia Wesleyan, Averett and Winston-Salem State University have all expressed interest, but she has not made up her mind. 

She will play in the 12th annual Triad All-Star Classic later this month to showcase her skills.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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