As soon as I stepped on campus, I sought out the women’s basketball coach Scott Hemer to tell him I wanted to try out.
I have a tendency to mumble when I get nervous. As I walked into the team locker room for the first time to introduce myself, I believe the exact words I rushed through were “HimynameisDavinabutyoucancallme Dream.”
“Davina the Dream” was just something silly a couple of my high school teachers called me in reference to my head always being in the clouds. It was also a play on basketball legend Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon. Not that I played anything like him at all.
Dream was pretty much all anyone heard that day and the nickname stuck. Coach Hemer was kind and welcoming, as were the girls who immediately made me feel like I was part of the team and would become my closest friends.
"I have a tendency to mumble when I get nervous. As I walked into the team locker room for the first time to introduce myself, I believe the exact words I rushed through were “HimynameisDavinabutyoucancallme Dream.”
As I tried out, it was very clear that I was lacking what it took to play at Geneseo’s level. Take one look at the team’s record since Coach Hemer took over and it becomes clear that the level of skill expected of the players in the program is way above standard.
Even though I didn’t make the team, Coach Hemer asked if I’d like to be the team’s manager. I figured, if I worked harder, I would try out again the next year and make it. I accepted and thus began my collegiate basketball journey. I was there for all the important moments that first season, including the team’s conference championship and NCAA Tournament run. It was amazing.
2015 SUNYAC Champion Geneseo Women's Basketball
I tried out again the following year but didn’t make it. Through it all, I couldn’t feel any ill will because I respected Coach Hemer’s decision and knew he was right about me. He was right about the player I was. But he was also right about me being one heck of a manager.
I considered the team to be my second family and the feeling was mutual. It felt amazing to be a part of something so much bigger than just myself. I didn’t have many friends growing up, but now I had people to go to lunch with, to sit with at the library, to play basketball with out of season. Parents of the players on the team always asked me how I was doing, invited me out to dinner and even thought to give me something for Valentine’s Day. Tragedy made it even clearer that these girls were like my sisters. Losing two of them in less than a year caused an indescribable pain that brought us all even closer. The team is truly a family.
I decided to try out again my junior year, but halfway through preseason, I realized that my heart wasn’t in it. I didn’t have to prove myself anymore by putting on a jersey. I had gotten so much without being a player. So I shelved that dream.
I was happy being manager and the next two years flew by. When the final week of the regular season rolled around this past winter, I was looking forward to standing alongside Sam Barry on Senior Day as we had been through this whole journey together. Then, out of nowhere, Coach Hemer asked me if I would be interested in dressing for the game. I hesitated. I was nervous and completely thrown by the opportunity to finally live my dream.
I am roommates with the other six upperclassmen on the team. When I went home that night and told them coach asked if I wanted to dress, as soon as the words left my mouth they began clapping and laughing and saying things like, “Oh my gosh, Dream! I’m so excited!”
When I told them I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, they immediately asked why before telling me that I was definitely going to do it.
Then I called Mike and I could tell he was excited about the opportunity. He told me that it was an extremely kind gesture and, as long as I was comfortable, I should do it. I agreed and the next morning I texted Coach Hemer and told him I would dress.
That Saturday, I walked in the locker room, which had been decorated for Senior Day. There on the jersey rack was uniform number 44, just waiting for me. As soon as I had it on, every one of my teammates wanted to take a picture with me. They didn’t want to miss this moment that I had been waiting for. I could tell they were insanely happy for me, and I felt the same way. I was euphoric.
So euphoric that I screwed up during the pre-game warm-up.
I sat down on the bench with my board to track our player minutes, just as I had for every other game before. Coach Hemer said I didn’t have to take them this time, but I told him I was a manager first.
During the last minute of the game, Coach Hemer put me in and even drew up an in-bound play for me to score. He explained it once during the huddle, and then for a second time because I’m sure he saw the confused look on my face, as he knows it well enough.
I finished with one rebound and one missed wide-open lay-up, but that was probably because I could not stop smiling. I have seen a few pictures of myself on the court with a huge, goofy smile on my face.