We pride ourselves on trying to keep tabs of the 13 Division I women's basketball programs in the state, -- we do our best -- but there are other women's college ball storylines that rarely get followed. Today we do our part in changing that, adding a new feature that will allow us to take an occasional look at Division II and Division III programs and players from the Commonwealth.
We'll write the stories when we hear about them, but there's only two of us. So we're asking for a hand. If you're a player from one of those schools and would like to talk to us about some aspect of you and your team, we'd love to hear from you (drop us a line at email@example.com).
We start with a terrific athlete and scholar in Randolph-Macon senior Lindsey Sharman, winner of the ODAC Sportsmanship Award for the 2012-13 season. Sharman was class president at Lynchburg's Brookville High her junior and senior years, was a U.S. Army scholar and was her school's Heisman winner. She lettered in basketball and volleyball and will be starting her senior season this fall at Randolph-Macon.
Sharman on the decision to play D-III.
Growing up on TV I'd watch UNC and other great players. I knew I wasn't 6-foot-8. You don't really know growing up that there is a Division III. In high school I started getting recruited by Division III schools, and I didn't know much about them. I knew I wanted a small school. I wasn't 100 percent sure I wanted to play basketball because I wasn't the star of my team, but it's been incredible. It's been such a great experience, going up against so many girls I knew because I played with them and against them in high school.
Deciding on Randolph-Macon
I knew I needed something small. I never saw myself at Tech or Radford or U.Va. ... I didn't know what I wanted. When you're 18 years old, you don't know what you'll want when you're 20 years old. I was bopping around, waiting. I went on recruiting trips and every time, I thought it didn't feel right. I remember crying to my mom after we would leave places and thinking, 'I don't like it.'
I would talk to my friends who went on to play college basketball, and would ask, 'How do you know? How do you know what the right school is?' They were like, 'You'll get a feeling.' I was so sick of hearing that.
After leaving Randolph-Macon, everyone was so caring. They had a tradition of excellence I had in high school, and I knew I wanted that in a college. I remember leaving and saying, 'Mom, I have the feeling!' I couldn't have chosen anything better and it fit me perfectly.
On the demands of D-III ball:
We start playing pickup the second week of classes, and we play all the way until the end of February. We're not here all summer, but we have one of the longest seasons at our school. During the week we lift. The other two days during the week we're supposed to be running and doing individual workouts. Even though we don't have the nicest weight room or a practice facility, we have the demands of a Division I. Our academics are really demanding. At Division I schools, they have tutors; we don't have that. It's up to us. We have study hall for anyone who has under a 2.5 and all freshmen. We have outlets on the bus and everybody brings their homework, especially if we're dealing with a five- or six-hour trip down to Guilford or something.
On the long road trips -- all made via bus. No flights:
We try to do really long trips over the weekend. We'll leave Friday afternoon. Our longest trip is Emory & Henry, 5 1/2 hours away. We'll try to play them and Guilford on the same weekend. We'll get back at 2 in the morning and the coach yells at us, "Everyone, go to class in the morning!" We've never had a problem with it. Our classes our so small. You can tell if someone is missing, so you really can't miss.
On traveling to a road game and playing shortly after arriving at the gym:
We usually do that with all of our road games. In high school, you have the JV in front of you, so you always have the whole game to sit there and focus. In Division III, sometimes you're running late and traffic's backed up on 95 and we're literally changing and getting taped on the bus. It's a hard mindset to get in sometimes. It's hard to go from sleeping and watching movies to getting up and going to play a game.
The best of times at Macon:
My freshman year we won ODACs. I haven't had children or been married, but that was one of the best moments of my life. Coming in from high school, it was a totally different dynamic. I had a 4.0 in high school, then coming here I was almost academically ineligible my freshman year. It wasn't because I was out partying or anything. I didn't know the demands that Randolph-Macon had. I bit off more than I could chew freshman year, taking classes and playing basketball. Time management -- I didn't really have to do that in high school. My freshman year we won ODACs, and it was a whole new experience. It was like all that hard work paid off. I was in the gym every day shooting. We worked so hard in the offseason. We were all crying. I had never had happy tears before.
Ever think why am I doing this?
I was never hurt in high school. Since I've been in college, I've had tons of injuries, freak injuries (she suffered a broken nose and a stress fracture in her foot last season, wearing a boot during the day). Coming back from injuries, you have to get your playing time back. There's days when you want to lay down and take a nap instead of practice. After injuries, you practice so hard and you can't get back in the rotation. It's really hard, and I try to keep in mind I'm only playing for four years and there's life after basketball. It's hard when your parents travel for two hours to watch you play, and you play for three minutes, and there's freshmen starting over top of you.
I love my teammates to death, but it's really hard.
Your vision for your senior year:
This past season we've had one of our worst seasons under our coach (Carroll Lattaye, 30th season) and that's not a record you want to be part of at all. We've been playing really hard in the offseason and pickup looks really good. I want to have a good season. We don't have to win every game, but I want to know we've given our best after every game. ... An ODAC championship would be great to go out on, but I'll just take a great season.
I want to be a physician's assistant. I'm also looking at being a nurse practitioner. I love the idea of working in a hospital because it has that team dynamic to it. ... I want to do something in labor and delivery. I have an internship this summer at VCU in pediatrics.
Ever think about that final game at the end of this season?
I knew going into Division III there would be an end. As much as I know I'm going to a miss it, it's a stresser in your life. It's also a stress reliever but it adds a lot of stress. I wouldn't take back any of the lessons it's taught me, but the not getting a lot of gratification with it all the time, I don't know that I'll miss every dynamic of it. I'll definitely miss having a team and having coaches. I think it will be a happy, bittersweet kind of ending.