A Familiar Smile

July 24, 2017

DENTON -- It's 5:30 a.m. in late June. Sunrise is still an hour away and the first glow of day remains a rumor. The cicadas have finished their night's concert, and the only sound is the horn of a freight train rumbling along the tracks a few hundred yards from the North Texas Athletic Center. There is, however, activity in the Athletic Center, where the Mean Green women's basketball team gathers for its morning workout.

As 14 of the players get ready with blank heavy stares and an occasional whisper, the 15th player enters wide-eyed with an illuminating smile. And without any sort of effort her smile becomes contagious. The motionless faces rise and the whispers turn into confident banter.

"It's great to have Callie's smile back," says guard Tyara Warren. "She's family and I know she's happy to be here."

Sophomore Callie Owens transferred from the University of Pacific on June 1st. With the help from a long-time family friend, from the moment she joined the team a few weeks later there were no awkward shy moments and she showed no hesitation to be a part of the team.

"Tyara was a huge help in my decision to come here and also with the transition," Owens said. "She's basically family."

Owens and Warren's relationship goes back many moons.

Both natives of Plano, Owens' older sister, Devri, is a friend of Warren and the two have been close for a while.

"Tyara used to have her own toothbrush in our bathroom back home," Owens recalled. "She was always around."

Graduates of Plano West Senior High School, Warren and Owens played one year of high school basketball together in 2013-14. Though their time playing together was short.

In the second game of the season, Warren, a senior, tore her ACL, ending her year.



Despite the injury, Warren attended every team workout, practice and event. During games, she'd sit with the coaches on the bench and be both another coach as well as support system to Owens and her teammates.

That's something Owens plans to do this coming season, while she sits out due to NCAA transfer rules.

"It's never exciting to sit out for a whole year from something you love to do but I'm going to use this time to get better and push my teammates," Owens said. "Even though I'm not playing, I want to be a leader on the floor and support my team through the tough times, such as 6 a.m. workouts."

On the court, Owens is a sharp shooter. She made 33 3-pointers last year at Pacific, which would have been tied for second-most on the Mean Green. On Feb. 2 versus Pepperdine, Owens scored a season-high 20 points while also making a season-high six 3-pointers.

"I am a shooter but I would like to be way more efficient at what I do," Owens said. "So some of my goals for this summer are to perfect my 3-point shot and pull up jumper and really everything in between."

The one and a half hour morning workout comes to an end, and the faces show exhaustion. There to pick everyone up with an enthusiastic smile is Owens.

"Everyone on this team has bright and unique personalities," Owens explained. "I'm really happy to be here and to be a part of this team that I can't help but smile."

North Texas Mean Green