JAY SOWERS | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Vidalia High School senior Miranda Gonzales, right, sings the national anthem on Wednesday while Sylvia Ritchie, a teacher with the high school's gifted and talented students program, accompanies her on the keyboard.

Scholar Athlete: Gonzales can hoop, harmonize

Published 1:04am Thursday, February 7, 2013

VIDALIA — Whether she’s performing as a basketball player or as a musician, Vidalia High School’s Miranda Gonzales admits getting homework done isn’t always easy.

“It feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day,” the senior guard said.

But with a 3.5 grade-point average and a 24 ACT score, Gonzales has managed to find a way. Having strong parents in Miguel and Carrie Gonzales goes a long way in that, Miranda said.

“They’ve always had high standards,” Miranda said. “If I came home with a B, they’d tell me I had to bring it up, because I can do better.”

Music has been Gonzales’ first love ever since she was little, and basketball serves as more of a tagalong to her life, she said.

“Singing is something I’ve always loved to do,” Gonzales said. “Dad would put songs on, and I’d just start singing them. Mom says I sang before I talked.”

In the seventh grade, Gonzales began working with Sylvia Ritchie, the piano teacher for the Concordia Parish talented music program. Ritchie said she knew right away that Gonzales had high potential as a musician.

“She’s a hard worker and very driven to get something learned whenever she’s given something to learn,” Ritchie said. “She wants to be the best at what she does.”

In addition to singing at her church, Gonzales also competes in the Louisiana Federation of Music Clubs and is also trying for musical scholarships at Louisiana-Monroe and Louisiana Tech. Ritchie said she’s enjoyed working with Gonzales and watching her grow as a singer.

“She’s easy to work with and always listens to what I have to say,” Ritchie said. “We try to do songs in her vocal range, and her vocal technique has really increased over the years.”

Gonzales said she especially enjoys singing for her church, Calvary Baptist in Vidalia, since the church encourages her in her music career.

“Ever since I got saved in the fifth grade, I felt like I could give my voice back to God,” Gonzales said. “This church encourages me with my music, and going to church helps encourage me to keep going through the week.”

Basketball has been Gonzales’ favorite sport ever since she picked it up in third grade.

“I’ve never been amazing at it, but I like it,” she said.

Lady Vikings head coach Fred Marsalis said he’s been grateful to coach Gonzales the past couple of seasons.

“She’s a very good team player, and she’s a consistent player,” Marsalis said. “For the last two years, she’s started for us, and she’s made a substantial contribution.”

Basketball is also an outlet to help with singing, Gonzales said, since both require good breathing technique.

“I played basketball at first to get my lungs strong so I could sing.” Gonzales said. “With running, even now I can run, and I won’t be breathing hard, and I have music to thank for that, and I have that to thank for my music. It goes hand in hand.”

Marsalis said he’s encouraged to have a player like Gonzales on his team who’s multitalented.

“That’s what you call a well-rounded person,” he said. “She’s able to adapt to all environments. I also had her in biology last year, and she’s a very good student.”