Longtime educator Barbara Rush is a native Mid-Southerner.
Among the things she missed about this area while spending years in Lincoln, Nebraska is the southern hospitality. On the other hand, Rush doesn’t shy away from the fact that she misses the progress her daughter, Mar’Lakuittia Overstreet, has made as a multi-sport athlete at Doane College in Crete, Nebraska.
“I am extremely proud of Marla’s had work and perseverance,” Rush, the cousin of former NFL wide receiver Landon Cox, told MemphiSport. “Her dedication and commitment have truly paid off for her. She strives to achieve both in academics and personal success.”
For the 21-year-old Overstreet, that she recently earned a spot on Doane’s cheerleading squad is among the reasons she has thoroughly embraced college life, let alone weathered the assortment of challenges higher education often creates.
For starters, Overstreet sensed that she would never partake in any form of athletics after she endured what undoubtedly was the most tumultuous encounter for a high school athletic standout.
Starring in both track and field and basketball for Lincoln High, Overstreet seemed well on her way to fulfilling her dream of landing a college athletic scholarship. Unfortunately, her senior year was mired by turmoil when the all-state dual sport athletic suffered a torn ACL during a game.
As Overstreet recalls, it was a devastating occurrence about which essentially changed her life, in large because she was Lincoln’s starting point guard and the catalyst of a team that was projected to make a lengthy postseason run.
The injury occurred when two players inadvertently collided into Overstreet’s knee. Consequently, she made repeated attempts to emerge to her feet and walk on the court on her own power. But to no avail, Overstreet was left grounded as a concerned Lincoln team looked on.
What they feared the most eventually had indeed occurred. Overstreet had in fact blown out her knee and was ruled done for the season. Prior to the freak injury, she hadn’t spent a significant amount of time on the bench in six years.
“The day I found out the news I was in my school trainer and (the team’s trainer) told me I had a phone call,” Overstreet explained. “I went into the office alone with the door shut. My doctor told me that the results came back and I tore my ACL. Hearing that was unreal and I broke down in tears. I decided that my love to play sports was over. I had and continued to have a lot of support.”
While the rehabilitation progress was somewhat lengthy and brought about a sense of discomfort, Overstreet was appreciate of the strong support from her mother. Rush teaches at Shadow Oaks Elementary in Horn Lake Miss., which is roughly three miles from Memphis.
“My mom has been supportive all of my life,” Overstreet said. “From being at games to running me all over town as I kept myself busy, she also was as she was my transportation to most of the activities. I know regardless I have her support in whatever activity I wanted to get involved in. The hardest thing for me right now is being in Nebraska and my mom 12 hours away.”
Mom and daughter converse every day, whether by phone, text message, or Skype.
“It is great to get phone calls and I look forward to hearing her voice,” Overstreet said. “I feel as if I have gotten super emotional whenever I do see her when she comes to visit. Having parents that truly do care and support you no matter what is one of the biggest blessing in my life.”
Though she attends college in the nation’s heartland and her mom is back in the South, Overstreet said her mother’s continuous support is what inspired to her resume conditioning for athletics. It wasn’t along after doctors cleared her full recovery that she shifted her focus to cheerleading, thanks to a close friend who convinced her to try out for Doane’s squad.
“She asked me the day before and I said, ‘Why not, yes, I will go with you,’” Overstreet explains. “In life, I honestly believe it is important to take those random opportunities because you never know what the end result will be. One thing that worried me was the fact that I had not cheered in three years and here I was trying out for college. I had not jumped but because of my coach at Lincoln High and I had a great foundation. I truly did miss being involved on a team.
“Mentally I prepared myself as to not being afraid to mess up and I knew I would not be perfect,” Overstreet added. “Many of my friends that I spoke to were confident that I would make it. In my mind I believed and didn’t at the same time because I thought college cheerleading was out of the question with my one experience in high school. Being that I was going to try out, the night before I practiced a jump and knew that I was nowhere near the flexibility.”
She didn’t allow her lack of experience deter her from her newfound ambition.
On April 6, Overstreet fielded an email from Doane’s cheerleading coach that featured the official roster. Fortunately for her, her name appeared on it, effectively sealing the comeback of an athletic who, three years prior, sensed she would never perform on a team of any kind again.
Nowadays, Overstreet said she uses her devastating injury as a platform, of sorts, to inspire athletes who have endured a similar injury.
“Don’t take for granted the one body you have,” Overstreet said. “Take care of it because you’re not guaranteed anything. But use your talents that are given to you and take the opportunities that may come along.”
Worthy advice about which brings her mother to smiles, 12 hours away.