Saunders and Howard U are looking to go back-to-back in the SWAC

Howard University sophomore Kenya Saunders talks about her decision to attend the HBCU, some impactful people in her native Canada, and why the Lady Bison could repeat as SWAC tournament champions.

Last season, the women’s soccer team at Howard University finished the regular season in second place in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. They would go on to upset #1 Grambling State in the conference tournament before being bounced by the University of North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament. Now, they enter the SWAC tournament as the #1 seed and sophomore forward Kenya Saunders has helped the Lady Bison to a 12-3 record.

“The team chemistry is a big part in why we are currently at the top because our game as a team is very fluid and amazing to watch,” Saunders explained. “Our mentality from preseason gave us the confidence to play at a high standard. I would love to reach the NCAA tournament and play some of the best teams because that is what makes you better as a player.”

Saunders has two goals and three assists this year in her second season at the historically black university (HBCU). I asked what led her to the Washington D.C. school, she answered, “At first, I did not have knowledge of an HBCU until I was selected a recipient of a scholarship. After doing my research and visiting the school, it became clear to me that the atmosphere and the people who share my culture and having a sense of community; it was a feeling of belonging. A celebration that hard work equals success both on and off the soccer field.”

That work ethic comes largely from the influence of her mother. “Her words of wisdom and advice made me into the woman I am today. She always reminds me that my mind is powerful,” Kenya said. “There were many times I wanted to give up and go back home, however she made me realize that I was truly blessed, and I have the strength to get through anything. I can honestly say my mother is my backbone.”

A native of Canada, Saunders is looking to lift a SWAC trophy like her beloved Toronto Raptors did last season in the NBA Finals. She lists Vince Carter and Demar DeRozan as her two favorite Raptors because of the mark they left on Toronto. She credits another representative of Toronto for his impact, as well. “Being from Canada, Drake did make such an impact,” she said. But, Kenya added that her music is versatile and extends well beyond Drake, including to one of his former rivals. “Before every game, I would listen to Meek Mill just because his songs get me pumped up and excited to play,” Saunders added.

The Philadelphia rapper will surely be played by Kenya Saunders pre-match will be on November 7th when the Lady Bison begin to defend their 2018 title in the 2019 SWAC tournament.


Carson A Merk

Reporting live from Sin City, I have covered both RGVFC and Las Vegas Lights FC since their inceptions. I also write profiles to highlight players from the NCAA to USL to NWSL and everywhere in between.