player on the women’s basketball team at Roanoke College in Salem, Va., has
a unique story that led her to become a Maroon, but only one can claim
that her journey began in the small village of Buxton on Hatteras
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Two-time Tideland Conference Player of the Year Paxton
Gwin has not only conquered the challenges of playing competitive
sports in a small, rural community, but has excelled throughout both
her high school and college careers.
This was evident on Monday,
Dec. 16, as Gwin accomplished the rare feat of scoring her 1,000th
career point during a game against Maryville College.
three-pointer in the second half of the game catapulted her into an
elite group, as she became the 16th player in Roanoke’s history to
reach 1,000 points.
“I knew I had gotten it in the middle of the
game,” she said. “And it was pretty cool because I did it in high
school and again in college.”
Though the event signified a
personal achievement, Gwin attributed much of her success to her
teammates and chose to memorialize the moment by snagging the game ball
and getting her 14 teammates to sign it.
“My teammates are my
favorite part of playing in college,” stated Gwin. “If it wasn’t
for them, I wouldn’t be where I am now.”
Gwin’s humble outlook
on her success is deeply rooted in her upbringing and in the vast
support system that nurtured and encouraged her career from the
“Paxton always had tremendous community support,”
agreed her mother, Betsy Gwin. “From the time she started playing
basketball at the age of 5, she had wonderful volunteers and staff
members at the Fessenden Center, really dedicated coaches in middle
school and high school, and had teammates who supported her.”
although many opportunities, such as joining traveling teams and the
Amateur Athletic Union, were unavailable to Paxton because of the
remoteness of Hatteras Island, she received a more unconventional form
of training when the young men of the community began inviting her to
play in their games.
Paxton competed against men in their 20s
and 30s, rather than young girls in her age range and benefitted from
her unconventional training.
Betsy believes, “What were
challenges when she was growing up turned out to be in her favor once
she got to college and had prior experience playing with men.”
Overcoming these obstacles paid off in the end.
her senior year of high school, Paxton was recruited to play basketball
by several schools and possessed the self-discipline and work ethic
that would be necessary to succeed as a collegiate athlete.
encountering several obstacles, she has flourished as both a student,
majoring in exercise science, and as a vital player since beginning at
Roanoke College in 2010.
She was initially challenged by
her coach’s decision to switch her position from shooting guard to
post-player, but has since adapted and succeeds in the position.
transition into college basketball was eye opening for Gwin because it
was vastly different than playing on a high school team with girls who
were lifelong friends.
“When I came here, the team is a bunch of
the best athletes from their schools,” recalled Paxton. “You
quickly realize that you’re not going to be the best player.”
playing in college has been riddled with a new set of obstacles to
overcome, Paxton was able to draw strength and encouragement from her
unwavering support system.
“It’s encouraging when my friends and
family attend my games,” she said. “It’s helpful knowing people
that are at your games and it feels like you’re at home playing again.”
throughout the community watch Paxton’s games online, check Facebook to
keep abreast of her career, or drive to show their support in person.
Until his recent passing, she received messages before and
after every game from Ted Eskildsen, the former coach of the boy’s
basketball team at Cape Hatteras Secondary School.
parents have continued to watch every game, whether they are in
attendance or viewing online, and have enjoyed seeing their daughter do
what she loves.
“I think that Paxton is a product of a very
supportive community and together with the hard work that she has put
in, she’s been able to be very successful,” said Betsy.
somehow strikes a balance among three-hour-long practices, daily
classes, and exams while still managing to earn the title of the Old
Dominion Athletic Conference Player of the Week on Monday, Jan. 6.
her final year as a Roanoke Maroon progresses, Paxton is faced with the
possibility of playing basketball overseas or beginning the steps to
become an occupational therapist.
Regardless of her chosen
career path after college, Paxton Gwin’s passion for basketball will
remain strong, just as her vast support system on Hatteras Island will
continue to encourage her in her endeavors.