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Kumar's vision goes well beyond court

If it sometimes seems to Hernando Christian Academy coach Susan Seidelmann that senior point guard Sonia Kumar plays with too much ease, it's no wonder.

Basketball is the break in Kumar's day.

From the time she wakes at 7 a.m. and helps her younger sister, Raati, 13, get ready for school until she finishes her homework late at night, the Spring Hill teen's day is a blur of activity: high school classes, dual-enrollment classes at Pasco-Hernando Community College, mentoring with Hernando Big Sisters, dance.

And somewhere in between, basketball.

"Basketball, I can at least relax," Kumar said. "It is a stress relief."

Kumar's teammates might describe her the same way.

One of three seniors on a largely inexperienced squad, Kumar has helped hew the rough edges from winless HCA's first season of Florida High School Athletic Association district play.

She leads the Lions in scoring (8.8 points per game) and steals (3.5) and ranks second in rebounds (4.3). She brings the ball up the floor and calls out the plays.

When things don't go the Lions' way, Kumar doesn't panic. She approaches Seidelmann and asks, "What can we do to fix this?"

"Nothing seems to shock her," Seidelmann said. "She takes everything in stride."

Perhaps it is because Kumar's perspective extends beyond the boundaries of any single game.

A straight-A student, she is taking five dual-enrollment classes at PHCC so she can earn an Associates of Arts degree by May. The degree will knock off two years of college, allowing her to enroll at South Florida this summer as a junior.

Kumar plans to study pre-medicine and perhaps enter the Army ROTC program. But her vision doesn't end there.

After graduating from college, Kumar plans to become a doctor, then get into government work, or maybe private practice.

When she reaches retirement age, she would like to go into missionary work, like her uncle, Dominic Moonga, who teaches at a secondary school and helps open churches in Zambia.

Kumar, who lived in Zimbabwe until age 5, said her Indian/African upbringing made her aware from an early age of the importance of helping others.

"In Africa, I wouldn't be able to do it," she said. "Here in America, if I have the ambition to do it, I can do it."

No matter how overwhelming her busy life might seem at times.

"It's exciting," Kumar said. "I hate being bored."

_ Frank Pastor can be reached at (800) 333-7505, ext. 1430. Send e-mail to pastorsptimes.com.

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