By: Liv Metz

As humans, we have a natural desire to leave our mark on the world, to make a difference in the lives of those around us. But how do we do that? And how will we know if we’ve left a legacy? A lasting legacy is exactly what many SUNY Brockport women’s basketball players found out about recently.

During the recent alumni weekend, former players, that have left that legacy, were welcomed for an unveiling ceremony of plaques put on lockers of current athletes including junior, Shannon Blankenship.

“You walk into the locker room and it’s like you owe it to the people that laid the foundation to give it 100%. To be resistant, competitive, to hold yourself accountable, to be trustworthy to have pride in our program,” Blankenship said. “When you look at those plaques and you know that you’re walking on the grounds of people that literally shed blood, sweat and tears and gave everything they had to this program is great as it is”.

Shannon Blankenship with teammates at the Unveiling Ceremony, SUNY Brockport (Photo credit: Liv Metz)

Blankenship hoped to find a home away from home and Brockport provided just that for her. Not only did she immediately love the environment of the school but her team created a sense of community that is bigger than just basketball.

During her Freshman year, Blankenship was inspired by alum Chelsea Henry aka “Charge Queen”, named SUNYAC All-Conference Second Team.

Chelsea Henry at the Unveiling Ceremony, SUNY Brockport (Photo Credit: Liv Metz)
Photo Credit: Liv Metz

Henry came back to Brockport from Virginia for this year’s alumni weekend. Alums participated in the Hall of Fame induction of Brenlyn Campbell Cristerna, the unveiling of the plaques, an alum basketball game, and a luncheon afterwards.

Current players had the opportunity to ask questions and hear inspiring words during the luncheon where women’s basketball head coach Corinne Jones felt her impact.

“We had five players there that played for me, so a lot of our core values and standards were being spoken and that was cool to hear as a head coach, them saying a lot of the same things that I say everyday but they’re in real life and those things are playing out and helping them,” said Jones.

Coach Corinne Jones giving a speech at the Unveiling Ceremony, SUNY Brockport (Photo Credit: Liv Metz)

Jones realized she wanted to be a coach after graduating. The relationships and bonds she made with teammates in college were a key factor in this decision. Jones saw the importance of networking and still connects with her alma mater to this day. She continues to mentor and gives back to players there.

“I think having a strong alumni base can help people find jobs or opportunities after college,” said Jones. “Doing it here at Brockport I think is important with what I know from my undergrad, and I think they can learn from our alum and have them help after Brockport”.

Bringing back past players showed current players how much basketball has shaped their lives. Understanding the impact that a sport had on them has an equal impact on the team.

Alum at the Unveiling Ceremony, SUNY Brockport (Photo credit: Liv Metz)
Alum at the Unveiling Ceremony, SUNY Brockport (Photo credit: Liv Metz)

“Knowing that you’re creating that bond and then seeing that bond when the alumni come back and knowing that even though it sucks right now you are still going to have these people in your corner,” said Blankenship. “It’s just inspirational to emphasize the fact that you want to keep that bond even when you leave”.

Not only do current players get something out of alumni weekend, but former players are also able to see the foundation that they built one shot at a time.

Jones hopes to host more events like this and eventually inspire other coaches to do the same. Bringing back former players not only benefits current athletes in the program, but the alums themselves. This event specifically, has opened the eyes of many who have really felt the impact of a lasting legacy.

The team with alum before the alum basketball game, SUNY Brockport (Photo Credit: Liv Metz)

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