Lakeland 9-year-old proving to be an asset for Excel Christian varsity basketball

Don't let 9-year-old Anyla Parker's age and size fool you. This kid is a force on the hardwood and she knows it. And she's already playing for the Spartan varsity basketball team.

"They say, 'You'll be a beast when you're a senior.' I said 'I know,'" the Excel Christian Academy 3rd grader told FOX 13 Sports.

"When she was five years old she was going up against seven, and eight-year-old boys at the rec league for CSU," said Anyla's coach, who's also her mom, Nadine Serrano "You heard parents say 'get the girl, get the girl,' and she just couldn't be stopped. I knew right then that this was for her."

When Serrano took over as the Spartans head coach, a shortage of players gave Anyla an opportunity to try out for the team.

"I was really happy but she told me that I have to work really hard to make it," Anyla said, who also admitted she was a bit intimidated at first. "I felt the fear, but I pushed through it anyway. That's where courage comes in."

Opponents who are unfamiliar with Anyla, who is a starter, tend to take it easy on her before realizing what a mistake that is.

"The first game that we played they 'boxed in one' her which means they just completely face guarded her," Coach Serrano recalled. "[They] didn't want her to touch the ball."

And as far as Anyla's teammates are concerned, she essentially has an entire basketball team full of big sisters.

"When I fall down, they ask me if I'm okay," Anyla said with a smile. "They treat me like I'm their age."