Women’s basketball: Terry overcomes Flint water crisis to play for Bonnies

(Photo Credit: Craig Melvin/GoBonnies.com)

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

Jalisha Terry and her Hamady High School teammates were in disbelief.

It was March, playoffs time in high school hoops, and they still had to brush their teeth with bottled water and carry cases of water up the stairs just to take a bath or shower. They were being tested for lead poisoning.

They were still facing one of the biggest water crises in United States history.

To cut costs in spring 2014, Flint, Mich. changed its water source from Detroit water, which was sourced from Lake Huron, to water from the dirty Flint River.

The move had demoralizing effects on an already decaying city. The Flint water was contaminated with dangerous lead due to aging pipes. According to the United Way, an estimated 6,000 to 12,000 kids have been exposed to the drinking water. In January, President Barack Obama declared the city to be in a federal state of emergency. Criminal charges have been filed against nine people as a result of the crisis.

“We went deep into the season and almost made it to states, and it really hit me, because it was going on for months,” Terry said. “It was like, ‘this is still happening?’ That’s when it hit me, ‘something’s gotta happen, it’s getting out of hand. It’s been happening all season, it shouldn’t be that long.’ It was definitely hard for us, the whole team.”

In a story by Bleacher Report’s Greg Couch on life as a young athlete in Flint, Terry’s father, James, said she was experiencing headaches “all the time.” Her mother, Lisa, noted that she had been moody, but acknowledged, “Everyone is moody, though. Is it the water?”

A natural resource so many take for granted was the biggest concern in the seventh largest city in Michigan.

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