PANTHER PROFILE: McLeod shares interests from the hard court to horseback

Bethany McLeod plays the trusted position of point guard for the Lady Panthers, and is hoping to help lead the team deep in the playoffs this season. (Alex Rubio Photo)

Bethany McLeod plays the trusted position of point guard for the Lady Panthers, and is hoping to help lead the team deep in the playoffs this season. (Alex Rubio Photo)

By Paul Livengood

The Liberty Hill Panthers took the court this season led by one of the team’s junior point guards, Bethany McLeod.

McLeod assumes the “floor general” role for Coach Chris Lange on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court. Lange mentioned he has known the junior point guard since she was a young girl.

She was born and raised in Liberty Hill, and grew up playing every sport imaginable. The youngster played softball, volleyball, and ran both cross country and track. However, her true interest came in the form of a basketball.

McLeod started dribbling a basketball from the moment she could walk. She has played point guard her whole life and as such, has been her team’s leader on the court. The ball runs through the team’s point guard, and McLeod enjoys that responsibility.

On the defensive side of the ball. McLeod’s presence is intense, as she regularly dives for loose balls on the floor and into the stands with what seems to be no regard for her body. She will do anything and everything to help her team win. The defensive aggressiveness prompts her to lead the Lady Panthers in steals, which the junior prides herself on, in Coach Lange’s full court press defense.

“(Favorite part about playing point guard) is having everyone look to me to call the play and being the leader on the court,” McLeod said.

Coach Chris Lange has an enormous amount of trust in McLeod. Perhaps the reason for Lange’s faith in the junior is because he has known her since she was a young girl. McLeod grew up playing softball and basketball with Lange’s daughter. As a coach, he knows exactly what to expect from his starting point guard and what she is capable of. For this reason, Lange has a great coach-player relationship with McLeod. He instinctively knows how to coach McLeod to bring out the most in her.

Sports don’t define McLeod though.

Off the court, her other passion is partaking in numerous outdoor activities such as four-wheeling and/or riding horses.

“I’ve been riding horses for forever,” McLeod said. “I’ve rode them since I was real young.”

The McLeods have plenty of land where she can relax from the life of a high school basketball player and retreat to her safe haven — riding her dad’s horse, named Lucky Star.

Lucky Star is one of two horses in the McLeod family, the other named Mack, who Bethany says is “in training.”

“The best thing is (riding horses) takes up a lot of time,” McLeod said. “So I can be like, ‘Oh, I’m riding my horse. I don’t have time for that.’”

Time has not been a virtue granted to McLeod as of late. As basketball season tipped off last month, practices, games, and tournaments take up much of her free time.

“I haven’t ridden her yet this weekend, or well lately anyway, because of basketball,” McLeod said.

Owning horses is tough work. If not taken proper care of, the horses can easily get prevent sick and/or “really gross” as McLeod says. Taking care of Lucky Star and Mack has taught McLeod a sense of responsibility that she carries throughout the rest of her life.

“We have a feeder, so when (Lucky Star) does come up, we give her food and stuff,” McLeod said. “We always have food out there for her. We have a water trough that is continuous. We have a shed specifically for saddles and stuff. We have like 20.”

Those saddles are McLeod’s least favorite part of owning horses, she says. Standing 5-foot-9, the horse saddles can weigh anywhere between 15 and 40 pounds. Hoisting that weight over a horse that stands almost as tall as you, is no easy feat.

McLeod said she is much more calm and collected riding horseback.

“It’s just really relaxing,” McLeod said.