Local athlete balances basketball and parenthood

ROCKVILLE, Md. (WUSA 9) -- Everybody has hopes and dreams, but actually fulfilling them is easier said than done. Nicole Cunningham was once a highly recruited basketball player coming out of high school, then a major life event changed her trajectory.

Cunningham, a high schooler at the time, got pregnant. In 2010, her daughter Harmony was born. A year later, brother DeShawn joined the family. Now Cunningham, a single mom, must balance school work and family life.

She's back on the court, playing for Montgomery College after a three-year hiatus. Her coach, Tarlough Gasque says Nicole's rusty, but good.

"As a player she's determined to win, she's focused on what needs to be done," said Gasque.

Nicole thought she was going to be recruited by a D-1 college. Schools like Maryland and Duke wanted her; the WNBA was her goal after college. Although the path to Nicole's WNBA dream brought her to Montgomery College as a 21-year-old freshman, she says her basketball hiatus was unexpected and her greatest joy.

Friends and family help Cunningham manage her challenging life. They take the children to nearly every practice. Despite her family demands, Nicole still wants to play professional ball.

"I've always wanted to be a WNBA player it's my dream so I'm going to strive to get there, even if it takes years."

Her coach thinks Nicole has what it takes to succeed at the WNBA level. While she keeps working towards that goal, her children will be close by.

"I hope they say they're proud of me for not giving up," said Cunningham.


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