Standing six feet tall as a sixth grader, Vania Cooke (Flowers) ’92 was encouraged to do one of two things - model or play basketball. She opted for the latter, a move that would pay dividends in her years at St. Andrew’s and beyond at Georgetown University.
St. Andrew’s will celebrate her contributions and accomplishments when she is inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame on Oct. 15 during a ceremony at the new student center.
“It’s very humbling,” Flowers said. “It’s a great recognition for the hard work I put forth.”
Flowers had been playing basketball for three years before she arrived at St. Andrew’s. It was between eighth and ninth grade that Flowers learned about athletic scholarships. She made it her goal to go to college on a scholarship and play basketball.
But rather than attend a public school, where she may have had a better chance of getting noticed by recruiters, she enrolled at St. Andrew’s.
“I chose St. Andrew’s for the academics. I just wanted to make sure when I got to college I was going to be able to stay there and be on par with the rest of the students,” Flowers said. “I knew that if you’re good enough, they’ll find you anywhere.”
She said the small, supportive environment at St. Andrew’s was what she needed to succeed on and off the court—she recalled several coaches offered her pointers, even if she didn’t play on their teams.
Flowers played forward and center all four years on the varsity girls’ basketball team. The team would not lose a conference game after her freshman year and would secure multiple PVAC titles.
Alison Condie Jaenicke, the varsity girls’ basketball coach in the early ‘90s, called Flowers a “quiet giant” who was “great defensively and offensively” and dominated as a big shot blocker.
“She was the presence on the court that every other team would try to figure out how to defeat,” Jaenicke said.
As Flowers predicted, her hard work would pay off and her dream school—Georgetown University—offered her an athletic scholarship. She remains in the record books at Georgetown for career shooting percentage and blocks
After college she played two exhibition games with the Washington Mystics and squared off against college teams in pro-am basketball leagues. Today she writes contracts for Deloitte, and her basketball focus has turned to her three children, one of whom was recruited to play at the collegiate level.
“They were brought up in a basketball family, so it’s not surprising to me that they picked it up,” Flowers said, adding that she tells her children, “I earned my way to college. That should be a tradition.”
Another tradition—enrolling her children in private school—was inspired by her St. Andrew’s experience.
“I put them in private school knowing the type of environment I got there. That’s what I want to pass forward to my kids,” Flowers said.