While she is on the court, Stephens College freshman Crystal Dominguez is entirely focused on the game. She rarely changes expression, though she will occasionally grimace if she makes a bad play or disagrees with an official’s call.
Off the court, however, Dominguez is all smiles, even just a few minutes after a Stephens (2-5) loss, laughing when asked to explain her nickname, “Bug.”
“My teacher gave it to me in second grade. The kids in my class thought it was my name, and every time they saw me they called me that,” she said.
It stuck with her when she started to play basketball, and when her high school coach spoke to Stephens coach Dane Pavlovich about her, he referred to her as “Bug”, so Pavlovich picked up the nickname.
She becomes serious again when discussing how she managed to let go of another tough game for the Stars.
“Usually right after in the locker room, you still have the hype,” Dominguez said. “But after it’s over, there’s nothing you can do about it.”
She explained that her demeanor during a game is just part of being an athlete.
“When we play, it’s just part of the game,” Dominguez said. “You have to put your game face on. I don’t like to make excuses for the way I play. After the game’s over, it’s over. You just have to learn from your mistakes.”
Part of staying focused on the game for Dominguez is hustling as much
Please see Dominguez, page 3B
as she can. Although she is only a 5-foot-6 guard, Dominguez, an El Paso, Texas, native, is continually ending up in scuffles with opposing players over loose balls.
“It’s just who wants the ball harder,” Dominguez said. “Every time there’s a loose ball, I think in my mind that I have to get it, whether the girl’s smaller than me or bigger than me.”
Teammate Jo Marquez, also from El Paso, has been competing against Dominguez since seventh grade, and this is the first year the two are playing together. Marquez said Dominguez has always been a tough player.
“She’s really aggressive, really competitive,” Marquez said.
Despite her competitive nature, Dominguez knows how to keep from getting down after consecutive tough games.
“The way to keep from being frustrated is to keep working hard in practice,” Dominguez said. “Be optimistic all the time, and take pride in how you play.”
Though Dominguez wants to continue to play tough for the Stars, she knows she still has many things to work on.
“You can always improve on everything,” she said. “I know I have to improve in every aspect of the game.”
Dominguez chose Stephens because she wanted to contribute to a program in the process of turning around. The Stars were 5-22 last year in their first year of NAIA competition, after switching from NCAA Division III so they would be able to offer athletic scholarships.
“The program seemed promising, and I thought I could bring a lot to the team,” Dominguez said.
Dominguez said her teammates have been helpful in making the adjustment at Stephens.
“They’re helping me transition well into college basketball,” she said. “I enjoy playing with them every minute in practice.”
She hasn’t been homesick yet.
“I’m enjoying it here. Every now and then I wish my parents could come to the games,” she said. “But it’s a once in a lifetime experience.”