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Friday, October 24, 2014 | Last updated: 3:16am

W-Hoops' Griffitts balances two passions


Griffitts helps Wildcats while still finding time to learn American Sign Language



Junior guard and forward Kama Griffitts went from sitting on the sidelines for her entire first season at Arizona as a redshirt to being part of the starting five for the Arizona women’s basketball team this season.

Griffitts transferred from North Idaho College and had to adjust to playing at the Division I level.

It’s been seven games, and Griffitts looks like she’s started to make the transition.

So far this season Griffitts has started every game, and she will continue this trend Sunday at 2 p.m. when the Wildcats travel to Long Beach State. Her best performance, though came against UNLV on Nov. 13 when she outscored perennial leader Davellyn Whyte with 25 points.

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By John Routh / Arizona Daily Wildcat
John Routh / Arizona Daily Wildcat UA vs. Grand Canyon University Women's Basketball

During the team’s trip to the Bahamas, Griffitts managed to grab a personal best of 10 boards — against UTEP on Nov. 23 — to lead the team in rebounding.

“She is progressing quite well,” head coach Niya Butts said. “The more she plays, the more she gets into the groove of things, especially with her shooting.”

In Arizona’s recent 71-66 win against North Texas on Wednesday, Griffitts tied Whyte and senior forward Cheshi Poston for second-highest scorer in the game with 14 points.

“She is a really good presence on the court,” Whyte said. “Her basketball IQ is very high and she sees the game like I do, so it’s very helpful to have someone that is on the same page.”

Along with her love for basketball, Griffitts has a unique passion for American Sign Language.

“My senior year of high school I saw these deaf people using sign language and I just thought it was so beautiful,” Griffitts said. “I became obsessed with learning it.”

Entering college, Griffitts said she knew the perfect major that would complement her new interest in American Sign Language: special education.

“I knew I wanted to do something after high school with special needs kids,” Griffitts said. “It is very helpful to know how to sign because I could potentially work with deaf kids once I start teaching.”

While attending North Idaho College, Griffitts served as vice president of the Deaf Club and said it was a worthwhile experience.

“My fondest memory is when our club invited the deaf community for a story night,” Griffitts said. “We sat all together and told stories strictly in American Sign Language and it was just a really cool thing to be a part of.”

With such a hectic basketball schedule filled with road trips, Griffitts has not been able to find a similar group to join at the UA. However, she said she holds high hopes of getting involved with the deaf community in Tucson. She even expressed interest in going to the Arizona School for the Deaf & Blind, located on Speedway Boulevard, to volunteer with the children, either telling stories or just simply interacting with them in a classroom setting.

According to Griffitts, coaching would combine her two loves, basketball and American Sign Language.

“I haven’t really pursued ways to combine the two,” Griffitts said. “But I would love to coach special needs kids when my career as a basketball player is over, in particular deaf kids.”


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