The phrase “hard work pays off” is a cliché concept preached by coaches to athletes for decades for one reason: It motivates and draws out a player’s potential.
Taeler Deer, senior guard, is an example that hard work does pay off. Deer is in her fourth season with the Bobcats and has developed into one of Texas State’s important players.
Deer began her sports career at a young age, being encouraged by her father and naturally curious about sports.
“I’ve been playing basketball since the age of six, (With) my dad and seeing a lot of little league signs around, I got interested.” Deer said.
Deer played multiple sports in her teens but inevitably decided to commit to one sport during her time in high school.
“My freshman year in high school I played volleyball and basketball,” Deer said. “But I liked basketball more than volleyball.”
The senior guard, now at the end of her college career, is playing the best basketball of her life. The increased quality of her game can be attributed to a motivation to make her senior season count.
“I’m more focused, thinking about the program, plays and keeping the team together,” Deer said.
Being a senior has brought a different way of looking at and playing the game to Deer.
“It’s a different approach; when you’re a freshman you’re just coming in playing free,” Deer said. “But as a senior, you take things more seriously. You’re more focused on detail.”
Deer has also become a more mature individual, on and off the court. She has learned how to accept criticism from coaches and teammates alike.
“My coaches are always getting on me because they believe in me and my teammates get on me because they believe in me,” Deer said. “I used to not take criticism well.”
Along with being able to take criticism constructively, basketball has taught Deer several other lessons.
“I got better with how I react to things, my time management, with being a better teammate on and off the court and I became a better leader,” Deer said.
Deer’s roommate for the last four years, Ti’Aria Pitts, senior forward, has seen the change Deer has gone through, experiencing it first hand.
“She’s definitely become more mature,” Pitts said. “Not only as a person but on the basketball court too. She’s definitely grown since our freshman year.”
With considerable experience under her belt, Deer takes pride in her role as a team veteran.
“Keep them encouraged, keep them focused, pick them up and always try to keep them included,” Deer said. “Let them know I was in the same position just a couple years ago, not playing or barely playing to full-time starter.”
According to Pitts, Deer takes the position of being a silent leader who prefers to lead by example.
“We both like to make sure we lead the team in the right ways,” Pitts said. “I’m more of a vocal leader than Tae is but she leads from the point guard position, telling them what they need to know.”
Deer’s main job as point guard is ball distribution and being able to run the offense on the court. The senior guard enjoys everything that comes with playing the position.
“My favorite thing about playing point is that I control the game, I control the tempo,” Deer said. “Passing to my teammates and them making buckets is my favorite thing.”
Pitts gives much of the credit for her own success to Deer and her ability to play point.
“She’s literally the reason I score 80 percent of the time,” Pitts said.
With records broken, victories accumulated and memories made, Deer has accomplished a lot in her time at Texas State. However, the one thing that has eluded her is a championship. The senior believes this year’s team can change that.
“I’m very confident,” Deer said. “We put the work in, stay focused through everything, stay together through everything. I love our team chemistry and know what we can do so I’m very confident in our ability to compete for a championship.”
Deer hopes to become a pro after college and continue to play the sport she loves.
“I hope to continue playing professionally wherever I go, overseas maybe,” Deer said. “Wherever life takes me I really do want to continue to play cause I love this game and I’m not ready to give it up yet.”