Kiandre’a Pound, a sophomore on the FIU women’s basketball team, had practiced the speech countless times, and now it was time to deliver.
This was back in the summer of 2015, and after a team meeting, the coach at the time, Marlin Chinn, told his players that Pound had something to say.
“I was so nervous,” Pound said.
But once she told her teammates that she was pregnant, each player hugged her individually.
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Tears of joy were shared.
However, point guard Kristian Hudson revealed that there were other emotions swirling around that day.
“On a personal level, I was happy for her,” Hudson said. “It was a good thing.
“But from a basketball standpoint, I wondered what we would do, who would fill her spot. There was a lot of confusion in the air.”
After all, Pound had just won Conference USA Freshman of the Year, leading FIU in scoring at 14.8 points per game.
FIU players had reason to worry about losing their leading scorer. The Panthers finished 5-26 without her, and Chinn was fired – although that happened after one of his players, who is no longer on the team, accused him of sexual harassment.
Meanwhile, Pound had a baby girl, Kynsley, who was born on March 30, 2016.
Pound, who just turned 22 and is back with the team for her sophomore season, had seen some youtube videos to try to find out what it was like to deliver a baby.
“I saw women screaming,” Pound said. “I got myself all worked up – I was in a panic.
“But my mom was by my side, literally holding my hand the whole way.”
Pound was in labor for 23 hours, pushing for the last 120 minutes of the grueling experience. But then out came Kynsley.
“After seeing her face, it was all worth it,” Pound said. “It was love at first sight.”
Pound’s mother echoed those sentiments;
“Words cannot express how I felt seeing our first granddaughter being born,” Katina Pound said. “It was a long process, but (Kiandre’a) did a great job.”
Pound, a 6-0 forward, had a playing weight of 155 but was at 205 after giving birth.
Two months after Kynsley was born, it was finally time for Pound’s comeback. She hadn’t touched a basketball in nine months when she came to campus for a workout with new FiU coach Tiara Malcolm’s staff.
“I couldn’t do one sprint without being exhausted,” Pound said. “The coaches had to give me water every two minutes because I was about to pass out.”
Pound, though, wouldn’t give up.
She worked her weight back down to 156 pounds and started FIU’s opener on Nov. 11, scoring 13 points in a loss to Central Florida.
“I didn’t have any doubts she’d make it back,” said her father, Andre. “She’s a persistent young woman.”
But back home in Gifford, which is part of the Vero Beach metropolitan area, plenty of people advised Pound to give up basketball and school.
Pound didn’t listen, even when, she said, her baby’s biological father chose not to be a part of Kynsley’s life.
“People think that when you’re in college, you’re automatically going to leave your baby with your parents,” said Pound, who lives with Kynsley in an off-campus apartment. “I said, ‘No, I’m not going to do that.’
“(Those people) tried to make me feel like I can’t have it all. But this process has shown me that I can have it all. I’m doing it now.”
Indeed, Pound never missed a semester in school. She came to FIU in 2014 largely because of its proximity to modeling agencies on Miami Beach. Her dream was to be America’s next great model. Basketball was just a hobby to her.
Since then, she has fallen in love with basketball, and she has changed her major to Psychology. She’s set to earn her Bachelor’s degree this spring and pursue a Master’s.
Before Kynsley, Pound admits she was “lazy in class, doing just enough to get by.”
After her baby was born, Pound rededicated herself to academics and had all A’s except for one B-plus in her most recent semester.
“Probably a day or two out of the hospital,” Pound said, “I was studying for finals with Kynsley on my lap. I had tutoring set up on Skype. I had to get it done.”
Kynsley recently started taking swim lessons, and Pound muses that she may have a “little Olympian” on her hands.
In the meantime, Pound is focused on baby, books and basketball.
“I’m excited to prove everyone wrong who didn’t think I could play,” Pound said. “I’m doing everything I can now so that Kynsley can do well. I don’t want her to have any excuses. I could make excuses, but I don’t, and she won’t be able to either.”