This has been on the Internet for a while but I wanted to wait until the Sweet Sixteen was over.
Sydney Moss making a name for herself on Kentucky basketball courts
Daughter of NFL star Randy Moss earns her own way into spotlight with talent, work ethic
Sydney Moss would never tell you that she averages 23 points and 12 rebounds a game. And the 16-year-old 5-foot-11 power forward
from Boone County (Florence, Ky.) would never reveal that she’s the No. 3-ranked basketball player in Northern Kentucky. Or let on that her coach considers her a once-in-a-lifetime athlete — with a killer combination of speed, ball handling and jumps. In fact, you would have to attend a game to know that her fans scream, “You just got Mossed!” every time she steals the ball, shoots through the opposition with razor-sharp aim and ratchets up her team’s score another two points.
Sydney prefers to keep things on the down-low.
On the other hand, you’ve probably heard of her dad, wide receiver Randy Moss. Sydney’s trip down the court is often accompanied by the chant “Raaaaaaaan-dy”— a sophomoric dig at her dad and his turbulent NFL career, well-defined by his famously short temper and last fall’s leapfrog from the Patriots to the Vikings to the Titans in four short weeks. It’s a nasty nod to the distant dad who lives in Tennessee — away from Sydney, her mom Libby Offutt and her four siblings (Thad, 12, Montigo, 8, Senali , 6, and Sylee, 2). On the other hand, her dad’s notoriety and the resulting public scrutiny have also taught Sydney to keep her cool. Her popularity has nothing to do with Randy’s reputation. She may have inherited his hands and talent — but, bottom line, the girl knows how to play ball.
Take last year’s Sweet Sixteen quarterfinals. The Lady Rebels varsity basketball team, needed three points to tie the score late in the game. Sydney, then a sophomore transfer, grabbed an offensive rebound, stepped back and, without hesitation, made the shot to send the game into overtime.
“If Sydney feels the pressure, she doesn’t show it,” says Lady Rebels coach Nell Fookes. “She can anticipate the game. She’s a step ahead of everyone, and her pure athleticism and talent is taking our team to a whole higher level.”
BORN TO PERFORM
Growing up, Sydney followed in no one’s footsteps but her own. Until she was 6 years old, her family lived with her maternal grandfather in West Virginia while her dad finished college. Whether she wanted to watch sports or not, her grandfather, Frank Offutt, was always tuned in.
“She’d sit and watch, but I don’t recall her ever commenting,” says Frank, who regularly travels the three-and-a-half hours to watch his granddaughter play in Kentucky. (He’s driven more than 6,000 miles during this season alone.) “When she began playing softball and basketball in middle school, it was clear she had picked up moves from TV that other players her age didn’t have yet,” he adds. “She made it look so easy. It’s a God-given gift.”
If her talent came naturally, her motivation came with learning — including one particular day on her driveway basketball court.
“My dad played against my brother and me once,” Sydney recalls. “He played defense and made us a deal: If we made a shot over him, he’d take us shopping.”
Her little brother, Thad, went up for the shot; Randy palmed the ball, stole it, then dunked it while his son watched from the sideline.
“I just walked away,” Sydney says. “There was no way I could make that shot, but I knew I wanted to learn how to take away a ball like that.”
Around then, when her junior high gym teacher saw Sydney shooting hoops — switching the ball seamlessly from hand to hand (some coaches still can’t tell she’s a lefty) — her skills had just begun to surface. By the time she’d finished her sophomore year at Boone County, the forward had matured into a power player, helping her team secure a regional title, a near-victory in the Sweet Sixteen quarterfinals and a final record of 28-4. This year, Lady Rebels are ranked fifth in the state, making them a magnet for college recruiters.
To date, Sydney has 15 verbal offers from schools in Florida, North Carolina and Kentucky.
A DO-IT-ALL PLAYER
Even with all the attention, Sydney still gives her team her all — both on and off the court.
Sydney Moss is co-captain of the girls basketball team at Boone County (Florence, Ky.). “Syd knows when to buckle down at practice, but she’s hilarious,” says friend and teammate senior Stacie Shrout, 18. “We have an incredibly close team. Syd’s a do-it-all player, but we’re all so tight that we feed off of each other. When she makes a shot, we all start making shots.”
Like any star athlete, Sydney shoulders the pressures and responsibilities of being a team leader. As co-captain, she knows that an off-day for her could mean an off-day for the team.
“[Coach Fookes] expects a ton from me,” Sydney says. “Sometimes it’s annoying to come in every day and feel like I need to play perfectly.”
Even so, Sydney respects and appreciates Coach Fookes’ advice and support.
“She brings out the best in me,” Sydney says. “[She’s] taught me that coaches can care about you as a person, not just as an athlete.”
SPRING ROLLS AND DIRT BIKES
When Sydney isn’t on the court, you’re likely to find her with her bestie, senior Jackie Marchall, 18, and other friends at an Asian buffet.
“We tend to eat one of everything,” Jackie jokes. “No, seriously. We eat a lot of food.”
And when she’s not scarfing down spring rolls, Sydney’s into riding dirt bikes — a hobby that terrifies her coach.
“Last summer, I took a turn and slid out, scraping my knee. I couldn’t bend it for a while and that probably made her nervous,” says Sydney, who loves off-roading with her brother Thad.
Coach Fookes can’t help but be protective of her star player. The Lady Rebels hope to snag their first three-peat as regional champs, then bring home a Sweet Sixteen championship. After that, Sydney’s main task will be to narrow her list of prospective colleges to three.
“I just hope I make the right decision,” she says. “I’m the first kid, and my mom’s going to have a big impact on where I go. She won’t want me to go far.”
Libby couldn’t agree more.
“I was 18 years old when I had Sydney,” Libby says. “When she heads off to college, I’ll just cry. I don’t know basketball, but I love watching her. If I could uproot the family to follow her, I would.”
Frank and Libby aren’t the only family members cheering Sydney on. At a recent game, as she was about to take a free throw, her little brother Montigo planted himself behind the basket where she could see him cheering,
“Go on, Syd! Go on!”
Needless to say, she made the shot — then playfully stuck her tongue out at him. And when her sister Senali recently joined a church basketball league, she made sure to ask for Sydney’s number 40 on her team jersey.
“But it went to some other girl and she absolutely threw a fit,” Sydney laughs.
Family fans aside, the public spotlight on Sydney is only getting brighter, as newspaper and blog headlines continue to tell of how she “steals the show,” and describe her plays as “game-clinching” — or game-ending. Despite the hoops — and the hoopla — it still comes down to one thing for Sydney.
“I want to be known for my own name,” she says.
Go on, Syd! Go on!
Here is the link to the article. There are several nice pictures:
And here's a link to the Magazine cover: