Stargell started playing basketball at 10 years old. Even though he has a Hall of Fame baseball player in the family, several of his relatives were successful on the hardwood at Earlsboro High School.

Not very many players have the pressure of following in a Hall of Famer’s footsteps.

For Elijah Stargell, star of the Earlsboro Wildcats basketball team, trying to establish his own legacy started on the playground with his cousin.

“Eric and I were always at the court all day, every day,” Stargell said. “Even though he always beat me, I always told him I was going to be better than him. He really pushed me to be better.”

Stargell started playing basketball at 10 years old. Even though he has a Hall of Fame baseball player in the family, several of his relatives were successful on the hardwood at Earlsboro High School.

“Basketball runs in my family. They have banners hanging up in the gym, so it’s just something we do,” Stargell said.

Stargell is the great-nephew of Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Willie Stargell. Willie Stargell was born in Earlsboro but moved away when he was young. Since the elder Stargell achieved fame as a baseball player, the town of Earlsboro named a street in his honor.

"I get asked all the time if I’m related to him,” he sad. “But I like basketball more and I didn’t really get the baseball time if I’m related to him,” he sad. “But I like basketball more and I didn’t really get the baseball gene.” gene.”

The high school’s mailing address is 101 N. Willie Stargell Ave. Since his first day of kindergarten, Stargell has passed the

sign dedicated to his famous relative.

“It gives me the confidence to be the best I can be, but it also drives me to be remembered here at Earlsboro like he is,” he said.

Since Stargell first picked up a basketball at age 10, Russell Parsons The high school’s mailing address is 101N. Willie Stargell Ave. Since his first day of kindergarten, Stargell has passed the sign dedicated to his famous relative.

“It gives me the confidence to be the best I can be, but it also drives me to be remembered here at Earlsboro like he is,” he said.

Since Stargell first picked up a basketball at age 10, Russell Parsons has been his coach. Parsons is currently the head basketball coach for the Earlsboro Wildcat’s high school team. Stargell is thankful for his guidance throughout his career, which helped him reach the 1,000-point mark early in his junior season. He has the opportunity to eclipse the 2,000-point mark with a deep run in the state tournament this season.

“Coach Parsons helped me out a lot and has made me a much better player,” Stargell said. “Off the court, he’s pushed me down the right path. On the court, he helps elevate my game all the time.”

Stargell vividly remembers his first high school basketball game. It was the Earlsboro Wildcats matched up against the Byng JV. In that contest, Stargell scored his first basket on a layup. It was a game the Wildcats won rather easily, he said.

Outside of basketball, Stargell competes in track and field and is a member of the baseball team. During the 2017 track season, Stargell finished fifth in the 100-meter, fourth in the 200-meter, and third in long jump at the state competition.

“I just like running and going out there and competing. As far as baseball is concerned, I mainly play it for my friends,” he said.

Stargell’s aunt recently passed away. Shirley Edwards-Nash adopted Stargell when he was young. She raised him until Stargell was a teenager and he went to live with his uncle near Pink, Oklahoma.

“She adopted me when I was really young,” he said. “She was really close to me and I love her so much.”

On the basketball court, Stargell is a consummate competitor. His main goal is to hang a championship banner in the Earlsboro gymnasium.

“I’ve always wanted a ring,” Stargell said. “When I was younger, I dreamed of winning a ring with my cousin Eric. He graduated two years ago, and we never got that chance at the state finals.”

Even though he tries to block out the opposing fans, Stargell thrives off their energy, he said.

“Hearing everybody cheer for us or the opposing team’s fans booing really gets me motivated,” Stargell said. “I really like when they boo us, because it let’s us know we are a threat to them.”

This year, a late season 61-59 loss at No. 6 Paden put the rest of the season in perspective for Stargell and his fellow Wildcats.

“I’m mad we lost but it gave us a chance to see what we needed to work on,” Stargell said. “We had a chance to beat them, but the shots didn’t fall and I don’t think we were mentally prepared for them.”

The team responded with a dominating 81-29 win over Bowelgs three days later.

Along with the loss, last year’s performance at the state tournament left a sour taste in Stargell’s mouth. He and his fellow Wildcats used the loss to LeFlore as a springboard for a hot start to 2017-2018 season, he said.

With such a dominant season thus far, Stargell said the toughest part of his game is staying focused on the floor.

“Staying focused even when we are winning can be tough at times,” Stargell said. “Just trying to block out what the players and fans are saying can be difficult, but I have to keep focused.”

Outside of school, Stargell dedicates himself to maintaining his grades and doing everything in his power to pave the way for success in the future.

“Basically I just go home, relax, get ready for the next day and do homework,” Stargell said.

With a few offers on the table to play basketball, Stargell continues to weigh his options before making the decision on where he will continue his academic and athletic career.

The Wildcats return to action today when they travel to Varnum.