Sorelle Ineza counting down her Hofstra b-ball days

Sorella Ineza gearing up for a big game against Hampton University in Virgina. // Photo courtesy Hofstra University Office of Athletic Communications

By Amanda Mechell

After spending nearly five years playing for the Hofstra Pride, Sorella Ineza said she wanted to finish her final season and semester with a slam dunk. 

Originally from Montreal, Canada, Ineza has played basketball for 15 years, starting at age 10. Ineza’s mother also played basketball when she was younger and told her daughter she could learn valuable lessons from the game that apply off the court if she got involved. After trying basketball, Ineza said she learned to communicate and work with people. 

“I loved it,” she said.

Through sports, she became more extroverted and developed leadership skills, which allowed her to work with people from other backgrounds and come together for a common goal.

 “At the end of the day, no matter what you are going through, you know you have a team and become a better person,” she said.

Ineza started her collegiate career at Hofstra in the fall of 2019. She completed her undergraduate degree in mass media studies, is currently a graduate student majoring in public relations and will graduate this May.

Ineza said she wanted to attend Hofstra because of the familial atmosphere, coaches and academics. 

“When I stepped foot on campus, I immediately felt at home. I knew this was the place for me,” Ineza said.

Motivation comes in many forms for Ineza. She credits her family for making her strive to be the best version of herself daily. Another inspiration is God. Ineza is big on her faith. She grew up in a religious household but lost her way as a teenager, she said.    

“I feel like I was able to find God through basketball,” Ineza said. She had several teammates who were also believers, and by watching her peers, Ineza’s faith journey came to fruition. Finding her faith again led her to join the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Hofstra, where athletes from all sports come together to hold weekly Bible study sessions.

Early one morning in October 2020, during her sophomore year, Ineza was training while in the arena, running sideline touches. She felt a pop while changing directions after pushing off on her foot during an exercise. Initially, what she thought was a kick from a teammate turned out to be a torn Achilles heel. Three days later, she had surgery. Ineza was out for the rest of the season, and she took a year to recover from her injury, with physical therapy starting just two weeks after surgery. She had to relearn basic movements, including how to walk, squat, run, jump and bend her ankle.

 “It was hard,” Ineza said. “You have to be patient with that, and I was just so mad. That’s probably the year where I discovered myself the most.” 

While recovering, Ineza realized she wanted to enter the public relations field, specifically sports communication. She put herself out there, reaching out to different organizations on campus. 

“Once the ball stops bouncing, what am I going to do?” Ineza said.

 “It was hard. You have to be patient with that, and I was just so mad. That’s probably the year where I discovered myself the most.”

Sorella Ineza, Hofstra University Basketball Player

Ineza is the media relations coordinator for the Hofstra Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. She runs the group’s social media accounts to promote relations between athletes and student-athletes. 

It is also an organization where students learn how to be leaders in the community by pairing them with mentors within their profession to build a network. 

The guard and team captain had some challenging moments on the court last year. Ineza was not playing well; she did not score for the first five games of the season and was applying pressure on herself to do so. 

“That’s when I met God,” Ineza said. 

While focusing on her faith, her game started improving on the court, and she enjoyed the game more. “I found myself again, and it ended up paying off,” Ineza said.

Danielle Atkinson is in her fifth season as head coach of women’s basketball at Hofstra and said Ineza is “one of the most positive people I’ve been around” and “steadfast in her faith.”

Setting small and large goals is something Atkinson does to help players understand they are progressing.

“I love what I’m able to do through the sport of basketball and impacting the lives of the young women to be able to help them achieve their goals,” Atkinson said. 

Maniya Custis, a senior majoring in community health and a teammate of Ineza’s, has known her for three years and said Ineza pushes everyone to work hard.

She “keeps me positive,” said Custis. 

Ineza has proven to be just as good on the court as she is off the court. Some of the awards Ineza has won include the Female Strength and Conditioning Athlete of the Year during her sophomore year and the Team Pride Award during her junior year. 

Inez at play against North Carolina A&T // Photo courtesy Hofstra University Office of Athletic Communications

Some rituals Ineza performs before games include reading her devotional, journaling and listening to gospel music. “It helps me relax and give glory to God,” said Ineza. 

 In the summer of 2022, Ineza interned for the New York Knicks, which she landed through her assistant coach, who set up a meeting and told her to apply for a student associate position. 

“Don’t be afraid to look for help from your coaches and sports directors. They are professionals,” Ineza said. 

Ineza is in her last semester of basketball. She said she hoped to win the championship game in March. Win or lose, she said she would savor the moments she had left on the court. Ineza wants to leave a legacy of working hard, being a good person and never giving up.

Ineza’s career goal is to work for ESPN as an on-air talent or behind the camera.

She does not plan to play basketball professionally, but one thing is for sure: She knows she will stay around basketball in some capacity for the rest of her life.

Ineza offers advice for other players who want to be in her shoes one day: “Never let anybody dim your light.”