CHESMONTSPORTS.COM


Unionville’s Micayla Flores is ‘making moves’ on and off the court

FH_Micayla_Flores_cropMicayla Flores

School: Unionville
Favorite athlete: LeBron James

Favorite food: Chipotle or Michoacana burritos
Favorite movie: Inception
Favorite TV show: Friends
Music: T-Swizzle (Taylor Swift) and Rick Ross

By Andy Edwards @CHCAndyEdwards
For Chesmontsports.com

EAST MARLBOROUGH – Micayla Flores is all about getting things done – ‘making moves,’ as she likes to call it.

Whether it’s maneuvering around a defender in the low post, fueling her aspirations of a medical career, or passionately serving her community, Flores is undoubtedly one of the Ches-Mont League’s most active competitors – student and athlete in equal measure. On and off the court, the senior on the Unionville girls basketball team personifies the term ‘mover and shaker.’

“I’ve always had something about me where I just want to get things done,” Flores said with a laugh.

One of the area’s premier post players, Flores has been getting it done ever since a mid-season injury pushed her into the Indians’ starting lineup as a freshman. She received All-Ches-Mont honorable mention as a sophomore and junior, but her senior swan song has hit an even higher note.

FH_Micayla_Flores_2Averaging 13.8 points (tied for fifth in the league) and 7.4 rebounds per game, Flores is the leading scorer on a resurgent Unionville squad in the midst of one of its best seasons in recent memory. At 16-7, the Indians have already posted their highest win total in at least a decade, a mark that includes a 51-49 overtime upset of National Division champion Bishop Shanahan. That thrilling duel proved a perfect stage for one of Flores’ signature performances: she went 4-for-4 at the line in the extra session on the way to a game-high 20 points.

This week brought an even more meaningful accomplishment. On Tuesday, Flores netted a team-high 12 points as Unionville edged past Great Valley, 37-30, and into the Ches-Mont Final Four for the first time in school history, a piece of history she shared with four other seniors who have teamed up to make an indelible impact on the program.

We haven’t made districts since my freshman year, and even then we weren’t in the Final Four,” said Flores, one of six players in the Ches-Mont to reach the 300-point milestone this season. “It’s a huge deal. A lot of us are seniors who have played together for the last 10 years. We’ve worked really hard; it’s been a total team effort, and this is the perfect way to go out.”

Though the Indians’ first-ever foray into the Final Four ended in defeat – Shanahan captured the rematch by a 47-31 count on Saturday – their season rolls on. Unionville received the No. 18 seed in the District 1 Class AAAA playoffs and will meet No. 15 Council Rock North in Saturday’s first round, another opportunity to make some unexpected noise.

“We’ve definitely been underestimated,” Flores said. “I think we’ve proven a lot of people wrong.”

 For first-year Unionville head coach Fred Ellzy, Flores’ tremendous leadership and engaging personality have eased his transition into a new job immeasurably.

 “When I was first hired in July, Micayla was the first player to welcome me with open arms to the program,” Ellzy recalled. “She had a great personality and you could tell she had leadership qualities. What makes Micayla such a great player to coach is her effort and willingness to learn. She is one of our captains, and she leads by example. She pushes herself and gives 100% from start to finish. The Unionville girls basketball program would not have been so successful if it wasn’t for Micayla. 

FH_Micayla_Flores_3“One person does not make a team, but Micayla was able to carry us on numerous occasions,” Ellzy continued glowingly. “It’s always difficult as a coach starting in a new program with a great basketball history, but Micayla made my transition easy. My only regret is that I wish I had more than just one year to have coached her. She has been a joy to coach and I wish her the very best.”

Flores’ basketball career won’t end after districts. In the fall she’ll suit up for her dream school, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), with her sights set on breaking the school’s all-time blocks record. To do it, she’ll have to pass an Engineer legend – her mother.

Darlene Flores (nee Dewilde) played for MIT from 1984-88, during which she established herself as one of the top defenders the program has ever seen. She ranks third in school history in blocks (118) and 10th in rebounds (559), and her total of 362 points during the 1987-88 campaign stands seventh all-time. Additionally, Darlene holds the record for steals in a game (10) and shots attempted in a season (404). Micayla, for her part, is especially intent on blocking more shots than her beloved predecessor.

“We’ve already discussed it,” Flores said. “I told her there’s a new sheriff in town.”

When she heads to Cambridge this fall, Sheriff Flores will actually patrol the same grounds as both of her parents. She visited campus occasionally in her youth, but her interest piqued a couple years ago when she took in a men’s game and met seventh-year women’s head coach Sonia Raman, who started recruiting Flores in earnest during her junior season. When the offer came, Flores hardly had to think before making her decision.

“I’m still in shock,” she said. “I’m so blessed and so appreciative to have this opportunity. It’s obviously the dream school for any aspiring engineer.”

At MIT, Flores will follow in the footsteps of 81 Nobel laureates, 52 National Medal of Science recipients, 45 Rhodes Scholars, 38 MacArthur Fellows, and a pair of Fields Medalists, as well as a staggering arsenal of world leaders and intellectual luminaries. Her plan is to study biological engineering, eventually narrowing her focus to the medical field in preparation for medical school, which she admits “is going to be a bear.” True though that might be, Flores is at least firm in the knowledge that a medical career is – pardon the pun — just what the doctor ordered.

That’s thanks to a program offered by Unionville (as well as other local high schools) in which students are able to apply to study at Technical College High School during their senior year. For two periods at the end of each school day, Flores either shadows a hospital and drug treatment program as part of a clinical rotation (three days a week) or takes in classroom training (two days), undergoing a thorough immersion into the field.

“It’s been extremely valuable and satisfying for me to have this experience and know that I really want to do it for a career,” Flores said.

That’s not to mention another fringe benefit.

“I got to drop Spanish,” Flores said, “and that was very exciting.”

FH_Micayla_Flores_4Flores’ resume – an impressive list of accomplishments she’s happy to recite on cue thanks to the college application process – is also chock full of community activism. She’s president of the Tick Tock Club at Unionville, where she and her fellow members orchestrate fundraising for Tick Tock Early Learning Center, a day care in Avondale that seeks to “assist underserved working families by providing high quality, reliable educational child care at rates they can afford.” The club often visits the children on Fridays and makes Easter baskets for them each spring.

“The girls in the club are always so excited to interact directly with the kids,” Flores said. “They’re really good with them.”

“The kids don’t have the same support that me and a lot of the other girls have been blessed with,” Flores continued. “A little kindness goes so far with them, just to show you’re willing to reach out and be a friend.”

Flores is also president of the Interact Club, a community service organization associated with the local Rotary club that volunteers in the local community. The club’s current project is selling hand-woven bracelets made by people in South America and Uganda, the profits from which will be sent back. She has also organized a food drive as part of Stop Hunger Now and acts as an editor of the school newspaper, the Indian Post, for which she oversees the Features section.

In October, Flores was named Unionville’s Student of the Quarter, and recently earned the same honor from her Allied Health class.

With the support of her family and school, she somehow manages to balance her many responsibilities with grace and remarkable efficiency.

FH_Micayla_Flores_5

Pictured is sister and teammate Hayley Flores, at the Tick Tock Learning Center

“I have a really good support system at home,” Flores said. “My family has been super helpful. My parents have this unspoken expectations that we work hard and get things gone. I also really enjoy everything I do, so I don’t have a problem spreading myself out. And Unionville really prepares you and provides you with great tools, and this is how the real world is. Everyone is so supportive in working with me to refine these skills.”

Not surprisingly, Flores carries a lofty GPA – she ranks in the top 10 percent of her class – and is a member of National Honors Society.

“It feels great to see a player do wonderful things on the court and also put in a tremendous amount of time in the community as well,” Ellzy said. “Micayla is a young lady with goals and works very hard to achieve those goals. She strives for perfection on and off the court, and with an attitude like that she will go extremely far in her future endeavors.”

In the midst of those many endeavors, Flores hopes her time at Unionville has shown others what her fellow high-schoolers are capable of.

“It just makes me happy that high school students are able to make a difference, and that’s what we have to remind people of – that we can make moves,” Flores said.

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