Jenna Stati is used to being ahead of the curve.
Even when the rising senior was just a freshman at West Forsyth High School, she already stood 6-foot-3. She already held county and state records in swimming. She was also already looking ahead to college.
After averaging 22.5 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks per game as a tall, lanky 14-year old, still digesting the fundamentals of the game, Staiti committed to the University of Maryland in the summer between her freshman and sophomore year of high school.
Since then she’s worked tirelessly to develop into the caliber player that will contribute to one of the best Division I women’s basketball programs in the country. In 2014-15, Maryland went 34-2 before falling to Connecticut in the Final Four.
Staiti has her senior season with the Lady Wolverines in front of her, but staying focused on and off the court will be as much of collegiate preparation as it is her last hoorah in Georgia.
That’s why the now 6-foot-6 center has begun an intense workout program a year in advance of taking her next step. She wakes up at dawn to get to practice with her teammates at West. Then she returns home, makes a quick wardrobe change (to knock off some of the sweat, she said), and heads to Atlanta Fitness to meet up with Chris Sexton, her personal trainer, for a series of heavy lifting.
Staiti said she began the workout regimen so she could be physically prepared to immediately contribute to the team.
“I started in April because when I went up to Maryland and visited with coaches they wanted me starting to work out my entire body to get ready,” Staiti said. “I come (to Atlanta Fitness) two or three times a week to work out, lift, pretty much the same stuff Maryland players are doing on a regular basis.”
The exciting part for Staiti, in the meantime, is the benefits her collegiate build will have in her final season of high school ball.
“I’m really excited for my senior year,” she said. “I have a lot of expectations for us but, it’s going to go by really fast.”
West finished last season 22-6 (15-3 in Region 6-AAAAAA), and this season will have the most complete version of Staiti at its disposal, according to head coach David May.
“Jenna has added elements to her game every year since she’s been here,” May said. “You don’t just do that by accident. That goes with her work ethic and her commitment. In her sophomore year she was a little more restricted inside, then last year got up to about 29 points per game.”
Staiti’s free throw percentage rose above 80 percent, and she began shooting nearly 40 percent from long range.
“She has a nice foundation for a shot, but now she’s putting it all together,” May said.