Being a star athlete has its benefits--and aggravations and pressures as well.
But you'd never know it watching Damaris Hinojosa play a game.
Hinojosa, a Moorpark High junior and The Times' Ventura County player of the year in girls' basketball, is remarkable not just for her talent but for her poise.
Despite often being triple-teamed by opponents and occasionally tripped up by her teammates, Hinojosa's smile never broke.
"We've never had a heated moment between us as a player and a coach or as friends," Moorpark Coach Brent Milburn said. "She's every coach's dream."
And every referee's as well. She was hounded at every turn and repeatedly fouled this season, but the 5-foot-10 swing player, who officiates youth league games, rarely complained.
"It's never been my style to blow up and get technicals and stuff," Hinojosa said. "If I don't get a call, that's not going to change it. I just try to laugh it off."
Opponents found little humor in the dilemma Hinojosa presented. When they guarded her with a post player, she lured them away from the key and used her ball-handling skills and agility to beat them to the basket.
When they shadowed Hinojosa with a guard, she posted up and feasted from short range. When they double- and triple-teamed her, she'd burn them with her passing acumen.
"She was the best player we faced all year," said Nordhoff Coach Ted Cotti, whose team played an ambitious nonleague schedule. "And she always works very hard on the defensive end of the court, which separates her from other good players."
Hinojosa averaged 23 points, 9.5 rebounds, 8.1 steals, 4.8 assists and 3.5 blocks, helping Moorpark to the Frontier League title.
Her court vision and ability to think several steps ahead sometimes led to startled Moorpark teammates fumbling to retrieve passes they never saw coming.
"She'll make a great play and not always get the results," Milburn said. "But I tell her not to jeopardize her game by not trying those plays and passes. The rest of us just have to work on catching them."
Hinojosa, a top-level player with the Ventura Stars club, said she becomes exasperated each spring when new teammates arrive on the Musketeer varsity.
"We start with a bunch of new girls and I just want to blow up and take a break because they don't know how I play or what's going on," Hinojosa said. "I get frustrated and my family hears about it, but after a while [the team] starts to click."
And the smiles keep on coming.