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Study with Fury: Senior connects classroom smarts with court sense

Ben Hillyer | The Natchez Democrat — Cathedral senior Sam Fury drives to the basket against Bogue Chitto in their game Jan. 25. Fury scored a 28 on his ACT and carries a 3.7 GPA.

NATCHEZ — For some athletes, academics and athletics are both important, but neither intertwine. For Cathedral High School forward Sam Fury, the two are intricately connected.

Fury, who carries a 3.7 grade point average and scored a 28 on the ACT, said there’s more to basketball than just shooting and fundamentals. Some of the concepts he learns in class help him with his game, too.

“We have a lot of smart people on the team, and it relates to basketball,” Fury said. “You have to learn plays and memorize them. When you can do that, it commits everything to memory, and that also helps you in the classroom.”

Fury said learning the game of basketball helps develop the brain to learn in the classroom, and vice versa. There are also specific subjects that somewhat pertain to the sport, he said.

“In math, you’re learning formulas, and with basketball, you’re learning plays,” Fury said. “With math, you have to learn all the parts to figure it out. It’s the same in basketball — if you only know you’re part, you’re going to bring the whole team down.”

Cathedral boys head coach Peter Arnold said he can see where basketball and mathematics are similar.

“It relates to geography and trigonometry, and there are times where it relates to physics,” Arnold said. “I have an analytical mind, and for guys who understand the plays, there is a connection.”

Fury said he takes his studying seriously, sometimes sacrificing sleep in order to stay on top of his grades.

“I have to study when I get home (from practice) and not slack up, even if I have to stay up late,” Fury said of his study habits.

Arnold said Fury’s smarts come from his dedication to everything to which Fury sets his mind.

“It’s mainly because he cares,” Arnold said. “Whether it’s basketball or the classroom, the person who cares and strives will do well, and he does that.”

One of Fury’s happiest academic moments was finding out he scored a 28 on the ACT recently. Fury said he took the test once in seventh grade and was happy to score as high as he did when he took it the second time.

“I was thinking 25, and when (Cathedral counselor Penny) Daggett told me I made a 28, I felt a lot of joy,” Fury said. “It felt rewarding, because you know how much all of the hard work paid off.”

Hard work doesn’t always guarantee success, however. When it comes to basketball, Fury said Cathedral’s rough season has been disappointing, especially since he and his teammates do put in the practice time. The Green Wave are currently 7-15 on the season, 1-6 in region play.

“We’ve been blown out a couple of times and come close a lot, and after working so hard, it’s kind of demoralizing,” Fury said. “It makes you not want to put in the work, but you have to keep working at it and hoping for the best.”

Arnold said any frustration on Fury’s part hasn’t shown up in games or practice, as Fury is one of the team’s leaders as a senior.

“Sam’s in here every day, and he’s not a very vocal guy, but he tries to be a leader by example,” Arnold said. “It’s very important when you have a team as young as this to have one senior or junior to step up, and he’s done that.”

Fury is the son of Colleen Fury.