Felder [Goshen/Goshen HS], who was a member of the Cougars first team as a freshman, hit her historic shot during the team’s best season yet, with a 14-7 record, 7-2 in the River States conference. The team currently is first in the conference’s west division.
She is quick to give credit to fellow players and coaches, as well as her family.
“You can’t do what you do without your teammates and without your coaches,” she said. “I’ve learned a lot from [interim coach] Carlee Cottrell in the short time she’s been here. My teammates push me all the time. They’re the reason I can play at the level I do. My mom and sister are also very important to keep me motivated.”
Interim Coach Carlee Cottrell noted that not many college athletes score 1,000 points — particularly as juniors.
“Deja is a quality individual, and this shows the hard work she has put into her game,” Cottrell said. “Her role on our team is to find her way to the basket. We wouldn’t be as strong without her. It’s important for the team that Deja is finding her shot.”
The rest of the team was more excited about the milestone than Felder was, Cottrell noted, because it came during the January 7 loss at Point Park University, near Pittsburgh.
“She’s not about herself at all,” she said.
Felder hadn’t realized she was close to scoring 1,000 until her mother pointed it out, and learned she had reached that mark after the game, in which she scored 20 points.
The achievement is especially meaningful to her because of her teammates who have been with her since the team’s first season, three years ago.
“One of the main reasons I came to IU Kokomo was I wanted to be part of something new, and set our own traditions,” she said. “It’s cool that we still have some of the original group here, and I accomplished this with them by my side. It was hard that first year, because you hear that all of the hard work is going to pay off, but you want to see it sooner. You have to wait and get through the process and the extra work. It’s good to see it paying off now.”
She is the second Cougar in the 1,000-point club, following Jared Lawrence, first on December 20, 2014.
Felder also is proud that her team bounced back from the loss, and followed it with a 71-62 win over conference foe IU Southeast.
“It was great to see we could come back from a loss like that,” she said. “I think all of our freshman and everyone learned something from that game, and brought what we learned to the next game.”
Felder is a health sciences major, with minors in coaching and nutrition. She aspires to be a personal trainer after graduating in May 2018.
Her classes are preparing her for those goals.
“You know everyone here wants you to succeed,” she said. “The best part is that the professors actually care, and are willing to meet with you any time. I had one professor who met me at 7:30 every morning. It’s nice they want to see you succeed, and are willing to help you.”
Her favorite part of being a student athlete is the camaraderie of the team.
“Traveling is always fun with them. I don’t think there is ever a dull day at practice,” she said. “We have a lot of personalities. It’s great getting to know them and be part of this team.”
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.