Playing Division I basketball is a daunting prospect, but that is only one piece of Janae McNeal’s life. The junior guard is a West Point cadet not only trying to win on the basketball court and excel in the classroom, but also preparing to become an Army officer after graduation. Instead of seeing basketball as another tough task she needs to accomplish each day, she sees it as a pleasure.

“It all comes with time management,” said McNeal, a psychology major. “It’s a release of pressure. For two hours [on court] I get to just be a ballplayer and focus on basketball. When that’s done, I go back to focusing on school right after.”

McNeal chose Army West Point after visiting the campus. She felt it was a good option for her future after college, setting her up on the right path and getting her where she needs to go. The school provides all the best resources to help her build her future.

At press time, the Black Knights are 13-4 overall and 4-2 in Patriot League conference play. McNeal is a starter, averaging 8.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. She is leading the team in assists at four per game. Playing a team sport helps build valuable skills.

“Basketball is a lot of dedication and commitment,” McNeal said. “I know what it’s like to work with different people of different backgrounds and different opinions and get along and make a team. It’s very beneficial in being able to work with people and create success. Even going through failures, we know how to bounce back from that and recover.”

Since earning their first trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2006, expectations have been high for Black Knights women’s basketball. McNeal said she loves playing at Army West Point and it is challenging and exciting. With the graduation last year of arguably the program’s best player ever, Kelsey Minato, teamwork is key to success.

“This year, we really have to work together every game,” said McNeal. “The energy is I want my teammate to succeed, so I’m going to do what I can for her. It’s really team-oriented this year and anyone could have a good game any night. We all need each other—all together all the time working to have a good game.”