Friday, June 28, 2013

Dispatch from Down Under: CNU's Schweers racking up the points

Former Christopher Newport University legend Chelsie Schweers is blogging for LadySwish during her season in Australia. Schweers, who happens to be the leading scorer in Virginia women's basketball history, signed with the Toowoomba Mountaineers in April. Here is her report from Down Under.

By the way, follow Chelsie at Twitter @chelsieschweers

The Toowoomba Mountaineers will start the second half of their season on Sunday, playing South West at home. Going into the second half of the season with a 2-6 record is obviously not where my team wanted to be. Losing one of our last games at the buzzer was especially tough.  Our next two games are important for our pool. That is, the top two teams in each pool qualify for the playoffs, which means a 2-6 record at this stage does not mean we are out. We have only played one team in our pool so far, and we won that game.  The next few games coming up are the most important for our season and we will have to be at the top of our game.  
 This past week was our "bye" week. While I had planned to spend some time at the beach, the weather did not cooperate. Hopefully, I will have some time to take in some sightseeing in the next couple of weeks. Although I didn’t make it to the beach, I did have the opportunity to give back to the community. There are a lot of after school activities in the community that are focused on getting kids involved in sports. I spend a lot of my free time teaching kids about the game of basketball and a little bit about life in America. The kids are always happy to see us, and their enthusiasm is so inspiring. I look forward to seeing their smiles every time I walk into the gym! 
 After week seven in the league, I am proud to announce that I am currently the league’s leading scorer, averaging 27.4 ppg. That was a bit of a surprise and a really good feeling when I saw those statistics posted. However, now it is all about the team and getting where we need to be to fight for a spot in the playoffs! 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Lessons from a repeat mammogram

I don't have a basketball angle for this post. I write it because sometimes this blog is an outlet for things to share, wisdom to impart.

I thought nothing of the letter when it came in the mail. It was 5:10 p.m. on a Thursday. I opened it expecting it to read like the others -- a box checked saying "normal results." Instead I spotted capital, bold letters. ADDITIONAL IMAGES.

They needed additional images of my breasts? It had been nearly two weeks since the mammogram. Why hadn't my doctor called if something was wrong?

I called the number on the letter. A hospital clerk told me there was nothing she could tell me and no appointment I could schedule without talking to my doctor. Suddenly, I couldn't hear the voices in my own house in the background. I kept rereading the letter and seeing the words. ADDITIONAL IMAGES.

I dialed the doctor's office, dreading I'd get the machine. Maybe they close at 5:30, I tell myself. Closed as of 5 p.m., I learn. I dial the answering service. My doctor isn't the one on call and was this really an emergency? The office reopoens at 8:30 a.m. Click. The long night of people, well-meaning in intention, telling me it was probably nothing does nothing to lift me. I have my own ways of telling myself inside it's probably nothing. I mean, no one had called, right? How bad could it be? I wanted to believe, but what if?

What if.

I expect reassurance when I finally talk to my doctor. Instead she tells me the report hadn't been sent to her. She knows nothing of it. Some mixup. An hour later, I talk with her again and she says something about women often needing to redo their mammograms when they go somewhere new. Hold on, I interrupt. That's not me. I'm 47. All seven of my mammograms have been at the same place. That put the doctor off script, but the message is the same. You'll need to return for another mammogram and an ultrasound.

Monday. 1 p.m.

I want to tell you that I don't put on a tough exterior front. I have trouble finding faith, trouble believing that all the praying in the world will change a health result. I worry. Nothing scares me more than health. My dad used to tell me  you could have all the money in the world, but without your health, it means nothing.  I scour the Internet looking for something to appease me and find dozens, maybe hundreds, of posts on message boards about women who have received such letters. Most of them are relieved to learn the results are benign even if they have a lump. I have no lump. I don't even know which breast; I forgot to ask. I feel both over and over. I find no lumps, but I wonder, would I know what a lump feels like?

The weekend is agonizing. I dismiss everyone's good intentions because they don't know; they can't know and I am a stubborn sort. My mind is clouded with what if. I think of all the women I know who have had breast cancer, survived breast cancer. I think of the survivor's walk at Old Dominion during the pink game and I see Debbie White, among the healthiest looking women I know, who beat breast cancer twice. You don't have breast cancer, the voices say. But what if? What if?I ask inside. What if I don't seem them graduate from high school?

Weekends generally speed by. This one didn't. Monday arrived slowly, 1 p.m. even slower. When it's time, you're grateful even if it is unsettling to walk back into a breast center again so soon. They ask you all the same insurance information that you gave two weeks before. Nothing has changed. It hasn't been a year, you want to shout. It's been two weeks.

You put on the gown that opens in the front and sit in a wicker chair. Other women are in the room, and you wonder if they are here for a repeat, too. They are staring at their cell phones; I stare ahead. I pick up a magazine and wonder why I'm holding it.

 Nobody ever says the word cancer, but you see the pamphlets. You see the pink. They call your name and tell you not to worry. Your breasts are dense, you're told. But what did they see? The tech tells you the radiologist wants to take another look. Just in case.

Mammograms smash your breasts into a cold metal machine. It pinches more than usual as the tech really works to flatten each breast, and you don't care about the pinching. Do what you need to do. She tells you if all is OK, maybe an ultrasound won't be necessary. She takes pictures, many, many of both breasts. Over and over again.

I wait. I talk to another woman who tells me she has a lump. She is scared. The tech returns. They need a few more pictures, she says. My left breast returns to the cold machine.

I wait again, longer this time. I picture the tech telling me all is well; I can go home. The tech returns. They want to do an ultrasound just to be sure. I ask if I can talk to the radiologist. After, I'm told.

I pray.

The ultrasound tech is very young. I watch her while she uses a probe to smooth out the cold, sticky jell she has placed on the right breast first, then the left. I'm reminded of when I had sonograms during my pregnancies and would study the tech's face for a sign something is amiss. Back then the tech told me it wasn't her job to tell me the findings of a sonogram.

 I look at this screen and see nothing but black. The tech tells me not to worry. She sees nothing at the various "o'lock" portions she is probing repeatedly. I feel good when she is done, but she's not a radiologist she tells me.

She leaves and the radiologist comes in. She talks about breast density and how mammograms show little for women with dense breasts. It seems like it takes forever, but she finally confirms that nothing is there.

Nothing is there. I breathe again for the first time since Thursday at 5:10 p.m.

You tell yourself when you come out of that room that you will live life differently. You will hold those you love a little tighter and you will worry less about just about everything. You will eat well, exercise more. You will be better and life will be better.

The days go by, a few weeks now, and you wonder how much of the bargain you made that you've held up. Have you been kinder, warmer, less stressed about the little things, more involved in the bigger ones? Not as much as you had hoped. You write this post vowing to share something that made a significant impact on your life that will go down as a blip for those around you.

There was nothing there. But all that you endured meant something to you.  

The happy ending for a Pryncess and ex-Lady Monarch now at Virginia State

Pryncess Tate is back on track.

Back on track on the basketball court, but more importantly, back on track academically. The 5-9 guard from Suitland, Md., on the Old Dominion roster from 2008-10 as Pryncess Tate-Dublin, is majoring in manufacturing engineering at Virginia State. She has a summer internship with Metro in Washington, D.C. With a year and a half of eligibility remaining, Tate is set to graduate in spring 2015. She hopes to work in a car dealership.

What a road it has been after a difficult start in Norfolk all those years ago. Tate, a National Honor Society member at Potomac High in Oxen Hill, Md., was used to scoring double digits, averaging 26.4 ppg and 11 rpg her senior year . But at ODU, the coaches looked to redshirt her until injuries during the 2008-09 season altered that decision. With most of the season 2008-09 gone, Tate came off her redshirt, seeing her first action in a game Jan. 29, 2009, a loss at Georgia State.

"Back home I was one of the best players in the area; I had all these schools looking at me," she says. "I wasn't used to not playing. That messed me up. I was young. It was tough for me to handle me not playing. Jackie (Cook) will tell you and Mairi (Buchan) will tell you; they were my roommates. I was crying all the time. It affected my grades more than anything."

Her playing time didn't increase markedly in her sophomore year, and her lack of focus continued to affect her grades. Released from ODU, Tate-Dublin got in touch with Billi Godsey, an assistant then with UMBC, a school that initially recruited Tate.

"She set up a whole plan for me to attend a community college so I could attend UMBC in the fall," Tate says.

Tate enrolled in Prince George's Community College and worked toward an associate degree. But Godsey left UMBC for an assistant's position at Virginia Tech; Tate-Dublin completed her associate in 2011, but was not accepted at UMBC and feels the program lost interest. She felt directionless herself.

"I didn't know what to do then," she says. "It was like, 'What am I doing? What did I do wrong?' "

Tate got a job at Macy's where she worked for a year but realized school remained her best option. A friend suggested Virginia State. After talking with coach James Hill Jr., she accepted a full scholarship there last fall and embarked on an engineering major.
A perfect score on an exam! 

"I decided on engineering when my car (a 1997 Nissan Ultima) started having problems," she says with
a laugh. "I always had tried to find new ways to make something better. I'm learning basically how to do everything with manufacturing -- mechanical, electrical. It's really cool."

Her grades are great these days; she is set to take 16 hours this fall at Virginia State. Being back on the court also agrees with her. Tate played in 10 games last year, averaging 4.6 points and shooting .417 from the field. Virginia State fell to Virginia Union in the CIAA Tournament final.

"It felt so good to be back out there," she says. "It was still an adjustment, not playing in two years. I'm good now. I love it."

As for ODU, Tate has no bitterness.

"I still support Old Dominion," she says. "There's no hard feelings."

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

JMU coaching staff holds rare distinction

You can't deny that Kenny Brooks and his coaching staff bleed purple.

Jennifer Brown
Sarah Williams
JMU isn't just a job for Brooks, assistants Sean O'Regan, Jennifer Brown, Sarah Williams and Tim Clark, director of operations. The school is alma mater to each of them. That would be: Brooks: JMU '92; O'Regan: JMU '03; Brown: JMU '08; Clark JMU' 09; and Williams: JMU '10.

How rare is it to have your entire coaching staff be alums? We did the research and of 345 Division I schools, only one other holds the all-alma mater distinction. (We excluded Mississippi Valley State, which only has one assistant.) Montana has actually had an all-alma mater coaching staff for nearly two decades. And it's hard to quibble with the results - a couple months ago the Lady Griz captured their 20th Big Sky tournament title.
Sean O'Regan

So what does this tell us about JMU? For one, this is no steppingstone for these folks; it's their school. In addition to the loyalty that shows, ask any JMU assistant any question from where's the bathroom in Wine-Price Hall to how do I get better seats in the football stadium. You're sure to get the right answer.

Says Brooks, "It really is beneficial having everyone on staff familiar with every aspect of JMU and the women's basketball program. It was done by design, but not in the way you may think. All of my staff are talented, hard-working, deserving coaches who happen to be JMU alums. The benefits are if you cut any one of us, we all bleed purple and would go the extra mile for this university and the program. Also, the loyalty aspect is tremendous. In a profession where coaches  are often looking for their next move, I have a staff that is looking to make our program better. It also helps in recruiting because recruits and families look at the fact that we all love JMU enough to want to stay

Brooks and Montana's Robin Selvig are among the 42 Division I coaches currently leading their undergraduate alma mater. The complete list:

Alabama State - Freda Freeman-Jackson
Austin Peay - Carrie Daniels 
Cal State Bakersfield - Greg McCall 
Campbell - Wanda Watkins 
Central Connecticut State - Beryl Piper 
Colorado - Linda Lappe 
Creighton - Jim Flanery 
Detroit - Autumn Rademacher 
DePaul - Doug Bruno 
Eastern Kentucky - Chrissy Roberts
Florida - Amanda Butler
Furman - Jackie Carson
Grambling - Patricia Cage-Bibbs
Lipscomb - Greg Brown
Louisiana-Lafayette - Garry Brodhead
Louisiana Tech - Teresa Weatherspoon
Loyola - Joe Logan
Middle Tennessee State - Rick Insell
Mississippi Valley State - Elvis Robinson
Montana - Robin Selvig
Morgan State - Donald Beasley
Murray State - Rob Cross
New Orleans - Keeshawn Carter
North Carolina A&T - Tarrell Robinson
Oregon State - Scott Rueck
Purdue - Sharon Versyp
Rider - Lynn Milligan
Rice - Greg Williams
St. Joseph's - Cindy Griffin
Sam Houston - Brenda Welch-Nichols
Seton Hall - Anthony Bozzella
Southeastern Louisiana - Lori Davis Jones
Southern Miss - Joy Lee-McNelis
Tennessee - Holly Warlick
Texas Tech - Candi Whitaker
UC Davis - Jennifer Gross
USC - Cynthia Cooper-Dyke
UNLV - Kathy Oliver
Wake Forest: Jennifer Hoover
Wyoming: Joe Legerski
Xavier: Amy Waugh

In addition, Tennessee State's Larry Inman and Tennessee Tech's Jim Davis both received master's degrees from the schools where they are now head coaches.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Welcome home: A chat with ODU's newest assistant, Trina Patterson

Her favorite, Pierce's Barb-B-Cue, is no longer a plane ride away.

Welcome home, Trina Patterson.

The Newport News native is Old Dominion's newest assistant coach to Karen Barefoot. She replaces Tom McConnell, who was hired as head coach of Division II  Indiana University of Pennsylvania on Wednesday.

There are lots of reasons Patterson might be a familiar name. The Warwick High School graduate played her college ball at Virginia (1983-87) and was head coach at William and Mary from 1991-99. She has also been head coach at Maryland Eastern Shore and the University of Albany. For the last two years, Patterson has been an assistant to Tara VanDerveer at Stanford, working with The Cardinal front court and assisting with recruiting.

"Everything was good about Stanford -- just working with Tara VanDerveer a Hall-of-Fame coach, the excellence in every aspect of basketball; it's been an incredible experience," Patterson says. "It's a very special place. I don't take it lightly. I cherish every moment of it."

But nothing beats home. Husband Carl, a retired Marine, is also from Newport News. Patterson's father, James Thomas, lives there as well. Brother Robert and his family live in Hampton, and another brother, James, lives with his family in Williamsburg.

"I'm home yearly," she says. "I see how everything is changing. It's great to see the changes. We (Stanford) were just there two years ago (during the NCAA Tournament; Stanford beat Hampton and West Virginia at the Constant Center). I've seen the change in facilities in Old Dominion. I've always had respect for the Old Dominion women's basketball program and just to see the facilities... We were actually in their locker room when we were there."

The move will be a transition as well for her sons: C.J., 16, Matthew, 12, and Joshua, 6. C.J., 6-foot-5, is entering his senior year of high school and he is a football and basketball player.

"It's always a tough transition when you move," Patterson said. "C.J. is resilient and I'm positive that he's going to make friends easily and be able to make the adjustments in this move. He did the same thing two years ago when he came to California."

Patterson has known Barefoot since Karen played at Menchville High. Patterson advised Barefoot about her own recruiting. "Set yourself apart," she told the scrappy point guard who went on the play at Christopher Newport. "She started to put on kneepads. She was diving on the floor. She was the same person then as far as energy level."

Barefoot's passion is among the reasons Patterson is looking forward to the new opportunity.

"I think Karen has a great body of work," Patterson said. "As an assistant, my job is to be the best assistant for her. Her vision for the program is what I want. And I know she wants excellence, so I would say excellence in all capacities is what I bring. I definitely bring super, super work ethic. I believe in being very corporate about basketball. We're in the business of wins and getting it done on the court."

Patterson looks forward to ODU's move to Conference USA, and noted recruiting will evolve for the Lady Monarchs as Texas will likely become a key state. She plans to hit the ground running when she arrives, even though she'll miss the fish tacos and fresh fruit from California.

But now the barbecue......

"When we come home though we go to get some really good barbecue at Pierce's," she said. "You don't find that style here in California."

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Dispatch from Down Under: Happy Birthday, Chelsie!

LadySwish is thrilled to have former Christopher Newport University legend Chelsie Schweers blogging for us during her season in Australia. Schweers, who happens to be the leading scorer in Virginia women's basketball history, signed with the Toowoomba Mountaineers in April. Here is her fourth report from Down Under.

By the way, follow Chelsie at Twitter @chelsieschweers

The Mountaineers came up with their second W this past weekend against the Bundaberg Bears. This was a big win for our team since we were coming off a loss from last weekend. The team pulled together and we were able to grind out a 71-68 win! After trailing by 10 for most of the first half, we came out with more intensity the second half and were determined not to let this game get away from us. By the end of the third quarter we had taken a three- point lead, and we were able to hold onto that at the end of the fourth. This game was extra special for me personally, bringing in my first Australian double-double tallying 10 rebounds and 27 points!  
 With only two games in the W column, we knew it was time to take a look at what was and was not working for us as a team before going into this past week’s game. We spent a lot of time watching film because you see  mistakes and trouble spots that you don’t see as clearly during the game. We talked about what we needed to do to turn things around, and on Saturday it was good to see all of our hard work pay off.  We have a big weekend coming up that we will be gearing up for this week. We will be flying to Townsville, which is the largest city in Queensland. There we will take on the Townsville Flames on Friday night and then travel to Cairns on Saturday night where we will play the Cairns Dolphins. We are feeling some momentum and are excited about this weekend’s upcoming games!
 This week I will be celebrating my birthday in Australia! I am turning 24 on June 11, which for me usually means spending time with my family and close friends at home. Although that won't be happening this year, I am looking forward to celebrating with my Aussie buddies!  Turning 24 in Australia while playing the game I have loved since I was 10 years old makes this a birthday I will remember for a long time.
 We have our "bye" week next weekend and I am planning on doing some sightseeing and going back to the beach! So I will be back to tell y'all how that was and hopefully have some great pictures to share as well.  I appreciate all the love and support on Twitter and Facebook! Go NEERS!

Monday, June 10, 2013

JMU-bound Griffin also a star in track

JMU-bound Griffin with her field award.
If you know anything about athletics at Western Branch High School in Chesapeake, you know the school boasts a nationally acclaimed track and field program headed by arguably the best coach in the state in Claude Toukene. So when Toukene refers to one of his athletes as remarkable and notes he has never seen anything like the feat she accomplished this past notice, you take notice.

Too bad, he lamented jokingly at last week's spring awards ceremony, that Da'Lishia Griffin found basketball before track.

We doubt that James Madison is sorry 'bout that. Griffin, an incoming James Madison freshman, received the the top award for a Western Branch field athlete in her first season as a track athlete. It's unusual for a senior to even come out for track, but to qualify for state -- "Remarkable," Toukene said.

The 6-2 forward -- who averaged 15.1 ppg and 12.6 rpg for the Bruins basketball team in the winter -- said she tried track at Toukene's urging.

"He asked me to throw shot put and discus," Griffin said. "I had never thrown a shot put or discus before a day in my life."

The technique stumped her, for a bit, and holding the discus felt almost unnatural at first. But by season's end, Griffin finished top four in both in the Southeastern District and all-Eastern Region in the discus, which allowed her to compete in the state tournament.

"The basketball weightlifting helped the strength aspect of it," Griffin said. "Once you get the technique down, you can throw it as far as your body allows you to."

Relax, Kenny Brooks. Griffin says basketball remains her favorite sport by far, and she can't wait to suit up for the Dukes (in fact, Monday is her first day on campus in Harrisonburg, as she is starting school at JMU even before her high school graduation).

Although Griffin has played basketball since she was 8, she enjoyed trying every sport and admits that were it not for those nasty allergies, who knows? You see Griffin was also a pretty good tennis player, but tennis is a spring sport.

"I had terrible allergies during that time in the season," she said. "The spring pollen was really bad, and I'd get flare-ups."

So basketball became her game and JMU her future. Griffin visited several schools along the East Coast -- George Mason and Virginia Tech were among those in the running -- before choosing JMU. "JMU was the one that stuck with me," said Griffin, who loves the coaching staff already. "They're very chill, but when it's time to play, everyone is ready to play and they have one goal in mind, which is to win, which is exactly what I want. They have a winning program and I know Coach Brooks, he plans to stay there. I don't want to go to a college where people leave and I'm still there. That's going on a lot right now."

Griffin said she admires Brooks' humbleness. "I've talked to no one who has had anything negative to say about him. I called Delaware and said I had accepted the scholarship at James Madison, and they said, 'You know what? I can't be too mad at that because Kenny Brooks is a great guy, and they have a great program.' "

When she's not ballin', Griffin likes to take pictures and draw, and her potential major is either architectural design or sports management.

Griffin says playing college ball didn't occur to her until the last three years, when she started to think, "You know what? I think I can play at the next level."

We know she can and can't wait to see her at JMU.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Brielle Blaire verbally commits to Virginia Tech

Do you remember the name Brielle Blaire? We did when we saw that the 6-2 forward verbally committed to Virginia Tech earlier this week. If you remember this post (and we understand if you don't as it's from 2010),  we reported Tech had offered Blaire a scholarship -- when she was in eighth grade.

"They were the first people to offer me and they've always been there," Blaire said. "Sometimes you have coaches who are interested in you but don't keep up with you. But they've been here through the whole thing -- calling, sending letters. They really support us."

The rundown on Blaire. She's finished up her junior year at Knox High School in Salisbury, N.C.,
where twice she has scored 600 points in a season, averaging 24.1 ppg her junior year. Fullcourt ranks Blaire 51st nationally and Blue Star 56th, and we can't help but repeat the quote from our 2010 post:

 John Jordan, the director of who had Blaire in a fall exposure camp in 2008 noted back then:

This young lady totally dominated the camp," Jordan wrote. "Right now she could start for many D2 and perhaps even a few D1 programs. ... An athletic forward with a great jump shot including 3-point range who has the ability to attack the rim and finish with contact. And when I say finish I mean she's finishing on 6-4 girls who are mid- to high-major level players. Extremely skilled, aggressive and athletic. I predict that she will be getting major D1 offers before she ever starts high school. She is that good." 

And good for the Hokies for sticking with her even with the coaching change. When Blaire committed back in 2010, Beth Dunkenberger was coach at Virginia Tech. Dunkenberger resigned the following season, replaced by Dennis Wolff.

"Dennis is a good guy," said Brielle's father, Paul. "His daughter (Nicole) played at UConn, and she
was a McDonald's All-American. He understands the concept of having a high-profile player in his program."

"When the new coaching staff came in, they let me know that they still wanted me," Brielle said. "I really respected that. If anything, it made me feel better about Virginia Tech."

Brielle keeps the mailman busy......
Over the years the mail stacked up for Blaire -- Paul Blaire said she had offers from Louisville and South Carolina -- but her heart never left the Hokies. "She'll have the opportunity to come in and showcase her talent and be a pioneer for this program," Paul Blaire said.

Dad loves that Tech boasts a 100 percent graduation rate for its players, and both he and Brielle are crazy about the campus.

"I feel like Tech is my home away from home and I'll be with people who want to take care of me," she said. "I think Blacksburg is really pretty. The campus is beautiful. It's not too small, not too big. I think it's a good fit for me."

Before she gets to Blacksburg, Blaire, also a volleyball player for Knox, plans to work on her ballhandling and finishing with her left hand. She's also crazy about drawing -- animated characters are her specialty -- and she enjoys watching the pro game -- Candace Parker is her fave. Ask her which player she plays the most like and after a good deal of thought, she rattles off this name: Maya Moore.

"I say that because she has a lot of diversity in her game," Blaire said.

As far as Heat or Spurs?

"I was kind of rooting for the Pacers."

Meet WVU transfer Jennie Simms, newest ODU Lady Monarch

Jennie Simms didn't consider Old Dominion as a high school senior.

The second time around -- as an unhappy freshman at West Virginia University -- it was almost a no-brainer. She visited Georgia Tech and Wake Forest with plans to take additional trips to Providence and Temple. But after connecting with ODU coach Karen Barefoot, she will be a Lady Monarch.

"Coach Karen Barefoot -- I have trust in her," Simms said. "They're going into a new conference (C-USA), and I knew we could make great things happen together."

Needless to say, Simms is quite the catch. The 6-foot Simms was a four-star recruit, ranked 88th nationally by ESPN two years ago and she was MVP of the ESPN High School Invitational game in 2012. The Riverdale Baptist High senior signed with West Virginia -- same school that is home to Linda Stepney and Crystal Leary -- integral players from Norfolk's Lake Taylor High School state title game. (FYI: former Lady Monarch Vicki Collier was also a Riverdale Baptist grad.)

Stepney and Leary shared with LadySwish how difficult an adjustment they went through initially in Morgantown. They remain on the team, but Simms left after eight games, averaging 3.1 ppg and 1.6 rpg. She continued to attend classes for the spring semester.

"It was a huge adjustment with the culture shock and the weather," says Simms of Accokeek, Md. "One time you come outside and it's hot, and the next day, it'll be snowing outside. I wasn't happy and I felt like the love of the game was getting taken away from me.  I knew I wanted to go to the next level, and I knew I wanted to continue to play. I wanted to play for a coach who had the same mindset and dreams as I have."

Simms thinks ODU will be a better fit, and she's spent some time in Hampton Roads as part of Boo Williams' AAU team. She is the most highly touted player to join the Lady Monarchs since Jazzmin Walters in 2005. Walters, whose memorable 3-pointer sent ODU into the Sweet 16 her junior year, was ranked 87th among high school seniors by the Blue Star report.

Simms, who plans to study special education and child development, will not be eligible until the 2014-15 season due to NCAA transfer rules. Sitting out, she said, "is going to motivate me more. I'll be able to see the next conference and visualize what the team has and what what I can do to help to contribute to the team."

ODU was the lone Virginia school Simms considered when transferring. Her father, Darrick, played for the University of Virginia from 1985-88, and Jennie says he is her biggest influence.

"He pushes me," she says. "He's the one telling me the things I don't want to hear."

Most often it's this message: "Shoot the ball!"

"I'll pass before I shoot," Simms says.

Dad also has a deal with Jennie. The two play one-on-one all the time; she has never beaten him.

"He told me if I beat him I'll get $500. One time I got him to nine playing till 11. I get close, but he still plays the exact same way as when he was in school."