A quick Google search of the state of Ohio will yield the names of literary notables, news worthy icons, glamorous movie stars, and six U.S. presidents who were all born and raised in the “Buckeye State,” and members of Florida A&M University’s women’s basketball team are no different.
With such excellence stemming from one city, it requires little effort in concluding the reasons why the Lady Rattler Basketball team boasts three of Ohio’s finest athletes.
In a phone conversation with teammates Stephanie Foster, Denise Tate, and Theyis Halley, they discussed how they all ended up nearly one thousand miles away from their home, choosing FAMU to continue their basketball careers, and strengthening their budding friendships that started back in high school.
“I knew Denise Tate from AAU basketball,” said Stephanie Foster, 20, the 6-ft tall junior Broadcast Journalism major and small forward from Columbus, Ohio.
AAU stands for the Amateur Athletic Union, a summer travel team for high school basketball players. Foster and Tate, the junior forward from Cleveland, were teammates on Ohio’s AAU team, the “Ohio Blacks.”
“I saw her every week,” Foster said. “If we weren’t playing we were always at practice, so I knew her very well.”
Not only had Foster and Tate played together since early on in high school at the ages of thirteen, but their families also shared a special bond. Luckily, the same colleges were recruiting them both and they decided to tour colleges together.
For both of them FAMU was the place to be. “FAMU is very family oriented,” said Tate, a 21-year-old nursing student. “And since we were far away from our families; it was good that we had each other.”
Foster further gave credit to the atmosphere and fun environment as the decision breaker for her and her friend.
At the opposite end of “teammate friendliness” were intense rivals, senior Theyis Halley, and Denise Tate.
In high school, Halley, 21, a criminal justice student, attended Collinwood while Tate attended Glenville.
The two schools were major rivals, and games against the opposing schools attracted large crowds. “Its kinda funny that me and her turned out to be teammates”, Halley jokingly stated.
Somewhere in between fierce competition, Halley and Tate ended up as friends, possibly out of their love for basketball and their connection to Ohio.
After visiting FAMU’s campus, and asking Tate about her experiences, Halley transferred from Lakeland Community College: “I knew Denise went here…when your friend says everything is cool you put trust in what they say.”
During their freshman year at FAMU, while living in Palmetto South together, practicing two and a half hours everyday during playing season with the Lady Rattlers, and sharing a couple of classes together, all three Ohioans were finally connected together as teammates with the same goals.
Now, they all are extremely close and share a special connection where it counts, on the playing court.
All three ladies agreed that their chemistry is the reason why they play so well together. “When you get along with somebody you can tell from the way they play on the court,” Foster said.
Halley also said that “chemistry on the court is important because if I don’t like you I’m not gone pass you the ball.”
Tate and Foster are currently roommates in Phase III, and Halley is directly across the hall from them.
“We are cool. If one says we need something from the other we can go to that person…so you can say we are pretty tight!” Foster said.