CRESTVIEW — To Netaya Winston, Sante Fe College has it all.
An intimate, safe campus that "feels like home."
A coaching staff dedicated to getting the most out of its players.
Proximity to Crestview and family.
So when it came time for Crestview's nightly double-double threat to continue her basketball playing career, the 5-foot-11 forward chose the Gainesville-based junior college over Lurleen B. Wallace Community College.
"I visited the campus in April and the environment was just something I really liked," said Winston, who will pursue a career in physical therapy or athletic training. "It was just the right fit for me. It's a smaller school with a lot of one-on-one attention so I can pursue a great education and play basketball. And it's too far away from my family."
Winston averaged 10 points and 8.1 rebounds for the 6-13 Bulldogs, who leaned on her defensively for two steals and two blocks a night.
She joins a Saints program that finished 19-11 last year and advanced to the semifinals of the Region 8 state tournament before being eliminated by Chipola.
"This is a great opportunity for Netaya to continue to grow as a basketball player while working towards her degree," said Steve Williams, Crestview's girls basketball coach. "We are extremely proud of Taya. She has only scratched the surface of the type of player she is and will become."
Winston was impressed with head coach Chanda Stebbins, who she said "pushes her players past their potential and improves their skills to go on to the next level."
"They expect me to play inside the paint and outside on the perimeter," said Winston, who will join Fort Walton Beach's Yvonne Ford on the roster. "I'm willing to work as hard they need me to and I'm going to push myself to help the team in every way possible. Their goal is for every player to transfer to a bigger college. Hopefully I'll use my two years there to better myself and go on to a bigger college."