San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Cierra Warren masters being a student athlete

Photo by Kelly Smiley, Staff Photographer
Photo by Kelly Smiley, Staff Photographer

Her coaches hold her in high regard and she brings a veteran presence and leadership, playing center on the San Diego State women’s basketball team. She moves with a combination of power and grace on the court and has the right amount of touch to float the ball into the basket over opposing players.

She is Cierra Warren, a senior working toward a master’s degree in liberal arts.

But before she became a focal point of SDSU’s team, Warren grew up in a single-family home in Rancho Cucamonga with her mother, grandparents and four siblings.

“If it wasn’t for (my grandparents) we wouldn’t really have a house,” she said.

Warren said her grandparents’ support is a big factor in where she stands today.

“It was just like any other house,” Warren said. “There’s arguments and trials, but my grandparents were great support for me and my family. They may not be as much into the sport as my mom, but they were there financially, mentally and emotionally for us.”

After her grandfather passed away, the house became her mother’s and the family moved out. Warren said she lived in that house for 16 or 17 years.

Her mother put her in basketball at the age of three as Warren also took up tap dancing and ballet to keep busy during her childhood.

“My father wasn’t really in the picture, so I think that’s why mom put us in sports,” Warren said. “To keep our minds on something.”

However, Warren’s mother didn’t simply encourage her to be involved with sports. Her mother’s involvement with her athletic career goes well beyond throwing her in after-school programs, Warren said. She played for a few travel teams growing up, including the Cal Sparks from Long Beach.

“We used to drive every night to go to practice,” Warren said. “An hour and a half in traffic after my mom came off of work.”

Warren said her mom would sleep in the car until her practice was over.

“Not many parents would do that, but that’s why she’s special … she’s the whole reason I have a degree and am on my way to another one,” Warren said. “If it weren’t for her I wouldn’t be where I am. She’s sacrificed so much so that I had the opportunity to play for the best teams like Cal Sparks.”

Warren has two sisters—one older and one younger—and two younger brothers. Warren smiled while talking about her youngest brother.

“My baby brother … he’s a hooper,” Warren said. “You’ll see him in the NBA one day.”

As one might gather from the ways her coaches talk about her, Warren is quite a “hooper” herself. She began her collegiate basketball career at the University of North Carolina where she competed in all 31 games as a freshman, averaging 4.3 points in less than 10 minutes of playing time per game. Warren said there were girls already playing at her position that would be on the team for two or three years, and decided she should move elsewhere to get more playing time.

“It wasn’t my spot there,” Warren said. “God had different plans for me.”

After spending a year in North Carolina, Warren transferred to the University of Louisville where she shot a team-best 57.3 percent from the field. Although Warren received increased playing time there, she knew she couldn’t stay in Kentucky for long.

“It’s hard living in Kentucky,” Warren said. “After two years being there I just didn’t feel like I could continue being there so I had to go.”

She noted that she had been in contact with former SDSU women’s basketball coach Beth Burns since she was 14 or 15 years old. She also said a deciding factor in coming to SDSU was San Diego being close to her hometown of Rancho Cucamonga. She also has an uncle, Darryl Warren, who played football at SDSU in the late 1980s.

“I figured I could carry on the family tradition of going to SDSU,” Warren said. “It was my last year, and I figured my mom would really like to see my games.”

Unsurprisingly, Warren said her mom attended every home game this season—no matter what.

“It was a great opportunity for her to watch me play,” Warren said.

Warren said there were many questions for this year’s team entering the season, but is relatively happy with the way things worked out.

“It was hard at first being that we have a new coaching staff and many of the girls didn’t know what was going to happen this year,” Warren said as her teammates bounced basketballs before practice, the sounds of which echoed and filled an empty Viejas Arena. “Of course, we were expected to do a lot better, but I felt as a unit we have all grown as women. I wouldn’t change it for anything.”

Warren wants to become a basketball coach after she finishes her schooling. She’s pursuing a master’s degree because she knows the chances of becoming a coach are higher with one than without.

“So many coaches have given to me, so I can only think of giving back one day,” Warren said. “If I could coach college, that would be amazing. Maybe one day have a travel team so I could help girls that were in my spot, in my situation, to help them get their degrees.”

Warren hopes she can keep playing basketball after she graduates and isn’t opposed to leaving San Diego.

“If I got drafted that would be amazing,” Warren said. “So I don’t have to go far from home, but playing overseas would also be a great experience. It would be fun just to travel and being able to see so many different countries and meet so many people.”

When Warren isn’t playing basketball, she said her main hobby is sleeping.

“I tend to sleep a lot … I really think I can take up a profession in sleeping because I am just that good at it,” Warren said, chin held high.

She also enjoys going to the beach whenever she gets the chance.

“I love the beach. I’m a Californian at heart,” Warren said. “Anytime I can go to the beach and sit there and have the sun hit my skin it’s just the best feeling of my life.”

Regardless of whether Warren gets an opportunity to play elsewhere before obtaining her master’s degree or not, she has no doubt she will eventually finish getting it.

“My mom would really like that and it’s something I really want to do for her because she has sacrificed so much for me,” Warren said.

Photo by Kelly Smiley, staff photographer

Activate Search
San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
Cierra Warren masters being a student athlete