From a young age, Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir knew she wanted basketball to be a part of her life. After first picking up a ball at the age of four at a local YMCA, Bilqis’ love for the game grew. Growing up in a practicing Muslim household, Bilqis was to follow her religious beliefs as she grew older. She began wearing a hijab, a traditional head covering for Muslim women, and practiced modesty on the court by covering all skin except her hands. Bilqis set the Massachusetts state record for both boys and girls, with 3,070 points scored – breaking Connecticut and WNBA star Rebecca Lobo’s previous state record of 2,740. She was also named the state’s 2009 Gatorade Player of the Year and a McDonald’s All-American nominee. Her skills transitioned into a full ride scholarship to the University of Memphis where she played four years (2009-13) and graduated with magna cum laude with a degree in exercise science. During her freshman year at Memphis, she was invited to the White House for Ramadan feast and was acknowledged by President Barack Obama for being the first Muslim woman to play covered in collegiate basketball. Her hopes were to continue playing professionally in Europe, but were quickly diminished when she was informed of the rule from the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) that prohibits head gear larger than five inches. After finishing her master’s degree in May 2015 at Indiana State, Bilqis looks to continue inspiring young Muslim women through sport. She is currently the Athletic Director and Physical Educator at Pleasant View School in Memphis, TN, and a motivational speaker.
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