The 'Fearless' Chardé Houston
Chardé Houston is fearless.
“That’s how I describe myself,” a determined Houston said. “I’m not afraid to take a shot at a crucial moment in the game. Not afraid to make mistakes, and never afraid to expect more out of myself.”
The process it took for Houston to attain that level of confidence (not arrogance) in herself has been fraught with countless hours of hard work and dedication. She's often among the first players in the gym and one of the last to leave.
In a different (but no less important) role for the Mercury this year, Houston has been a significant spark of energy off the bench for Phoenix. While scoring eight points per game in just 20 minutes, she’s also averaging a career-high in assists (2.0) and free-throw percentage (.85) while shooting 46 percent from the floor, her best average since her 2009 All-Star season where she shot 47 percent.
“It’s one of the most rewarding things,” Houston said when asked about her role on the team. “I have more pressure from my teammates in practice to be great and that's my driving force. Dee [Diana Taurasi] doesn't allow me to get away with anything half-speed, and I appreciate that.
“She's always coaching me and making sure I grow with her.”
During the 2012 season, her first with the Mercury, Houston stepped up while the team battled a myriad of injuries. Averaging 12.0 points and 3.4 rebounds, Houston was one of the most consistent players on the team.
And while there isn’t a single soul who will say 2012 was easy to go through as they finished 7-27, Houston wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.
“Last year was tough, but that's what builds character,” said Houston. “I'm happy I was able to go through all the changes. I appreciate every moment this year so much more. Adjusting to the up-tempo game wasn’t as difficult as learning a new position.
“I can say now that I'm adjusted, and more focused than ever.”
Actually, if she’s being honest, “more focused than ever” is a vast understatement.
It’s been well-documented, but Houston went through a total body transformation in the off-season – not for superficial reasons, but to feel better about herself and prolong her career.
“Last year, while being injured, I had a chance to do a lot of thinking,” Houston added. “I did some reflecting with myself about what my expectations were and what I want to become in the future on this team. You can't make an impact on the game if you’re out of shape so that was my main focus in the off-season. This is a statement year for me, and I’ll continue to do whatever it takes. I want to retire as a Phoenix Mercury.
“I know if I work hard, everything else will follow.”
In fact, Houston has adopted a brand new motto.
“’By any means necessary’ is my mindset,” Houston said with confidence. “No excuses. No complaints. Take every situation and make the best out of it.
“After all, I'm blessed to be doing what I love.”