By Rick Assad
When Isabella Roderick was the most free to be herself, that’s when the senior power forward on the Burroughs High girls’ basketball team really soared.
“The games that I played my best are the games that I felt free and had fun. You were able to tell when I was having fun and when I wasn’t,” she said of her goal to succeed on the floor and also enjoy herself.
Roderick, a four-year varsity performer who was selected All-Pacific League first team as a junior and a senior, went on: “I let loose. I try to get rid of all my stress before a game and know my personal opinion of the other team, depending on whom we’re playing,” she added.
Basketball is in a lot of ways improvisational just like jazz, and this fits Roderick’s personality.
“Honestly, there wasn’t much thought. When I overthought my next move, that’s when the game became stressful,” she said. “When I was free and had a clear-minded new strategy, it went like this: The next look. The open player. The next open shot came to me.”
Even before the opening tipoff, Roderick, who will continue her education and hoops career at Mt. San Antonio College, had a sense of whether it was going to go well for her and the team.
“There’s not a way for me to put it in words, but when you know, you know,” she said. “Energy is the biggest factor and warmups determine how at least the first half of my game will go.”
Longtime Burroughs basketball coach and former Glendale High point guard, Vicky Oganyan was witness to Roderick’s development beginning as a freshman and included many high moments for the Bears.
“Izzy was a four-year varsity player for us who got better every year,” she said. “She helped us get to the CIF semifinals in 2019 and 2020.”
Roderick, who was also selected to play in the Battle of the Valley All-Star game after leading the Bears with a nearly nine-point average and 7.1 rebounds per game, could be counted on to make a steady stream of shots, even beyond the free-throw line.
“An all-league, first-team selection, Izzy led the way for our team this year on and off the court,” Oganyan said. “Her rebounding, court vision, defense and scoring were very valuable assets to our team.”
Tall at 6-foot-1 and strong with a nice touch from the free-throw line, Roderick knew that her energy would benefit her and the team.
“My best assets are probably my energy. When I’m having a good time on the court, I try to make sure everyone is also doing so, and it starts with my energy,” she said. “A lot of the time the game was determined if the starters came out with good energy in the first quarter. Along with energy some of my strengths are rebounding and passing.”
Burroughs went 18-11 and 12-2 in league this past season and has been competitive and seemingly always qualified for the CIF postseason.
Though not automatic, getting to and advancing deep into the playoffs isn’t easy, and it takes hard work and determination, which Roderick has.
“My role was a leader, and my goal was to impact people. Being a returning varsity player, a lot of the younger girls looked up to us, and being a returning starter of three years, I had a little more pressure and more responsibility on my shoulders,” she pointed out. “I tried my best to make sure everyone had a smile on their face. Make sure people hold themselves accountable, push the girls, form connections, teach others and overall make sure the girls had a good experience while I was there.”
Wearing the uniform and being a part of a successful organization, and especially playing for Oganyan, has made Roderick a better player and person.
“Playing for Burroughs basketball made me push myself every day to be better, and the program taught me how to hold myself accountable,” she declared. “The overall atmosphere was fun. I was honored to play with a great group of girls and grateful to be in the presence of Vicky’s hard-working tough mentally.”
In the back of Roderick’s mind, she knows confidence was a key factor in her play and wishes that she had know this ingredient is one of the keys during her time at Burroughs.
“I wish I realized this a lot sooner, but my confidence and optimism helped me,” she said. “When I felt confident, I felt free. When I felt optimistic and wanted to get out of my comfort zone, it allowed me to try new things. Failure is important and I wish I could have played less scared.”
Still all things considered, Roderick shined when she needed to, and her overall game was integral to the success of the Bears.