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VOL. 43 | NO. 7 | Friday, February 15, 2019

Lady Vol Green finds home, family far from England

By Rhiannon Potkey

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Green goes to the basket during a recent game against the Kentucky Wildcats.

-- Maury Neipris | Tennessee Athletics | Utsports.Com

The bus came to a stop and the door swung open once the driver spotted Cheridene Green. Green was walking on the University of Tennessee campus with Karen Armsey, the program administrator for Human-Animal Bond in Tennessee. Operated by the UTK College of Veterinary Medicine, HABIT is a community volunteer group that works to promote the bond between people and animals.

Green was immediately drawn to the program three years ago when she transferred to Tennessee to play basketball for the Lady Vols. The British native – she’s from London – is an animal lover and looks for ways to help others.

Green helps on the court by setting screens, grabbing rebounds and passing to open teammates.

But Armsey has watched the “sweet young lady with a huge heart” perform selfless acts beyond the court through HABIT.

Armsey knew Green didn’t have a dog, so she let Green use her mutt, Shilo, for activities. In the offseason, Green spends time with Shilo near the climbing wall on campus to greet students when they enter.

As the first international player in Lady Vols program history, Green knows how comforting little interactions like those can be in dealing with stress and change in life. She knows how much it means to have people show they care.

People like the bus driver on campus, who pulled over in July to check on Green.

“She asked, ‘Honey, are you doing anything for the Fourth of July?’ Cheridene said it was not my holiday, so the bus driver invited her to come to her house for a get-together,” Armsey says. “She had kind of adopted Cheridene and was looking out for her. She made sure she was doing fun stuff and taking care of herself. That made me really happy to see.”

Far away from family in another country, Green has found a surrogate family at Tennessee. The 6-foot-3 redshirt senior forward is entering the home stretch of her Lady Vol career and playing her best basketball.

Green has started every game this season, averaging 8.3 points and 7.4 rebounds. She entered the week having recorded double-digit rebound totals in seven of the last 10 games, including a career-high 15 against Kentucky.

“Rebounding is about effort and heart, and Cheridene is committed to that. She gets position before the shot goes up,” Tennessee head coach Holly Warlick says. “That is her game, and when she sticks to that, she does a great job. When she sticks to that, we generally win basketball games.”

Green doesn’t need to be in the spotlight by scoring a bunch of points or making splashy plays. She prefers elevating everyone else around her.

Tennessee forward Cheridene Green, a redshirt senior, is the first international player in program history. She has started every game for the Lady Vols this season and is second on the team with 7.9 rebounds per game.

-- Maury Neipris | Tennessee Athletics | Utsports.Com

“I am a blue-collar worker and I don’t mind doing the dirty work,” she says. “I realize anybody can score, but it’s about the things people don’t really want to do like crashing the boards and boxing out every time. If I get almost every rebound then that makes my teammates’ job easier.”

Green didn’t grow up in London watching any basketball because her mom couldn’t afford ESPN. But her height made basketball a natural selection once she started playing sports.

“I was overweight when I was younger, and my mom said I was going to play basketball because I needed an activity. I went to my first practice and I was horrible. I cried,” Green recalls. “I couldn’t make my shots and couldn’t make my layups. My coach took me to the side and said we were just going to play catch. But I really wanted to make my layups and put the ball in the basket.”

Green’s determination helped her gradually improve. By the time she graduated from high school, she realized she had a chance to come to the United States to play in college and get an education.

Rather than go straight to a Division I school, Green opted to attend ASA College in Brooklyn, New York, where she was a two-time National Junior College Athletic Association All-American.

“I felt like I needed to go to a junior college because I wasn’t ready,” Green acknowledges. “I didn’t want to be one of those freshman that would just sit out the first year. I wanted to play and get better.”

Green suffered a knee injury as a sophomore at ASA and had to redshirt her first season at Tennessee.

Her role for the Lady Vols has evolved from “being a cheerleader to watching and learning from the seniors last year to being more of a leader this season.”

As she’s become more accustomed to SEC play, Green has grown more comfortable off the basketball court as well. Her English accent still piques the curiosity of her classmates.

“It has calmed down. But the first days of class are always the worst because you need to introduce yourself,” Green says. “I tell them I am Cheridene and I’m on the women’s basketball team and I’m a senior from England. Then, they are like, ‘Dang. I told you she was from England. I thought she was from Australia.’ Then you hear them start bickering and asking questions about how I got over here.”

Green graduated last summer with a degree in communication studies. She wants to explore professional basketball opportunities once the season ends.

As for her future beyond playing, Green expects animals to be involved somehow. She’s owned five pit bulls, two rabbits, two birds, two cats and a lot of fish in her lifetime.

“The main reason I like working with animals besides being an animal lover is just because they are unable to fend for themselves for a lot of things,” Green says. “There are a lot of people in need that can’t fend for themselves like younger kids, so I recently changed my mind. I don’t just want to help animals. I want to help anybody who is unable to help themselves.”

Green’s mother hasn’t been able to see her a play a game in person for Tennessee, partly because of the cost to travel from the United Kingdom. But Sylvia Green is expected in Knoxville for Senior Night, when Tennessee hosts Vanderbilt on Feb. 28.

It’s sure to be an emotional moment for everyone, from Green’s family to her team right down to the bus drivers on campus.

“That will be really special for me,” Green says. “I know my mum really wants to be here and I really want her to be here for that game.”

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