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THE GRIND: Forsyth Central's Richards working to uphold legacy
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Forsyth Central rising senior Julie Richards is the fifth in her family to play basketball for the Bulldogs, and she hopes to end her career at Central with a state playoff appearance. - photo by Micah Green

Julie Richards’ turn has come.

A rising senior for Forsyth Central’s basketball program, Richards hopes to not just carry a team, but a local legacy.

That’s because she’s the last—for now—of five Forsyth Central basketball players in her family, spanning three generations. Her grandmother, Rebecca Martin Fagan, played for then Forsyth County High School and graduated in 1956; her mother, Angie Fagan Richards, played until 1986. Julie’s older sister, Kayla, took the Bulldogs to the second round of the state tournament in 2012, before moving on to Columbus State.

Julie’s goal for 2015 is to get the team back. Central was close last season, but fell on a buzzer beater to Creekview in the region tournament. Had they won, they would have qualified for the state playoffs.

“Since that game we’ve just wanted to come out even stronger for next year and just come out and play. We know everyone’s strengths. I’m interested to see where everything’s going to go and how the season will play out,” Richards said.

Richards’ eyes have been focused on the task at hand. She’s lost 40 pounds since last spring, helping her conditioning exponentially. She’s worked in the offseason on ball handling and completing her game as a post-up and stretch shooter, even if it means overmatched pickup games against her 6-foot-9 twin brother, Jon, who plays for Central’s boys team.

“I’ve been able to get up and down the court and focus more on what I need to do for the team, rather than worrying about being out of breath and tired,” Richards said. “I’ll probably be down in the post a lot, but I’m prepared to help bring the ball up the court sometimes.”

“I can step out and shoot some 3s when open,” she said.

Richards drastically increased her production from her sophomore to junior seasons. As a sophomore, she scored 7.3 points per game, while averaging 5.9 rebounds, but upped those numbers to 10.7 and 9.2, respectively, last year—just shy of a double-double per game.

Returning to the team in 2015-16 will be rising seniors Abby Fagan, Brianna Sullivan and Richards. But Richards also gleamed during summer workouts about the influx of players that have joined the team that went 9-2 in Region 7-AAAAA, Div. B last season.

“This is the biggest team we’ve had show up for workouts since I’ve been here,” Richards said. “It’s exciting to see, and hopefully it’s a good sign for our program.”

While basketball has been in Richards’ everyday life since she can remember, she’s still blossoming into a new type of player not just physically, but mentally. She hopes her senior season will include a role change in the locker room.

“In the past I’ve been kind of in the backseat,” she said, “but now as a senior I feel like I need to step up and be a leader on this team and keep everybody in check, and the coaches expect that.”