More college signings: Cashala Thompson & Chelsea Canhamby Andy Morales on Nov. 15, 2010, under Sports
I asked Doris Thompson if this was easier the second time around. She told me watching her granddaughter play basketball has kept her much younger.
Her son, Harvey Thompson, was an All-City selection from Cholla who wound up playing basketball at Arizona for Fred Snowden, Ben Lindsey & Lute Olson so I can see what she meant.
Her granddaughter, Sahuaro All-Star Cashala Thompson, just signed up to play basketball at Florida A&M and her maternal grandmother, Josefina Noriega, was also present and pointed out that Cashala was her youngest grandchild.
So, it dawned on me as I was watching Cashala sign her name, that these college signings mean more than something as simple as school pride. They mean way, way more than that to the people who sacrificed so much to see their children succeed.
The college recruitment process is a confirmation of talent to be sure, but it is also a confirmation for grandparents, parents, teachers and coaches.
What greater confirmation can there be than to watch your child realize their dream?
The same scene played out across town in Oro Valley as Canyon del Oro basketball star Chelsea Canham signed her name to play at Northern New Mexico.
Her grandmother Barbara and great aunt Diane beamed with pride as her mother, Jennifer, felt blessed. “It’s a heartache that she will be leaving,” she told me. “But we are so blessed that her college is paid for and that she will make a difference.”
Cashala is 41 points shy of 1,000 in her career at Sahuaro and coach Steve Botkin realizes what Cashala has meant to his program. “She has never missed a practice,” he told the crowd. “One of the greatest days of my life was when she enrolled at Sahuaro.”
Chelsea scored CDO’s last three points to secure a state championship in 2009 over Tempe McClintock. The Dorados went 32-1 that year but Chelsea missed about nine weeks due to an injury before entering the championship game where she scored her old-fashioned 3-point play underneath the basket.
Cashala’s talent emerged in middle school. “I realized she had potential in the 7th grade,” Harvey Thompson told me. “And, oh yes, this whole process is a lot easier this time around.”
Chelsea’s middle school coach Dean Howard attended her signing because she wanted to thank him for getting her started. Howard is now retired from the Amphitheater School District and he touched so many lives including my own children who he coached at Cross Middle School.
Cashala chose Florida A&M because of they are known to have a great chemistry and biology program. “I want to enter dentistry and eventually become an orthodontist,” she said. “I know I will be homesick but I get to play and will get an education.”
Chelsea will study psychology but her main theme was that she will make a difference. “I was recruited by Division I, II and II schools but I chose Northern New Mexico because it felt right,” she said. “I will start as a freshman and I will make a difference. It feels like the place to be.”
To top it off, both players told me almost the exact same thing when I asked what they expected from themselves this year:
“I’m going to play like I don’t have a scholarship,” Cashala said.
“I will play hard, like I’m fighting for a scholarship,” Chelsea said.
Cashala will be playing far away from her family and friends but hopes her school will schedule a game against NAU or Arizona while Chelsea will be playing closer to home but still a good day’s drive away.
“That may be close,” Jennifer Canham said. “But in a mom’s world it’s too far away. She’s not across the hall.”
Cashala’s mother Tina Thompson thanked the crowd gathered in the Sahuaro gym for coming and someone in the crowd shouted out, “You’re welcome.”
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