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Passing The Toughness Test

Jan. 8, 2011

By Jon Cooper
Sting Daily

Every athlete plays through pain.

It is the amount of pain one plays through separates a champion.

So, the question becomes would you play with a broken leg to live out your dream of winning a championship? How about two broken legs?

Freshman point guard Dawnn Maye would. She already has. That’s what makes the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native a great fit on a team whose rallying cry is “No Limits.”

Yet her extended pain threshold something has only become widely known lately because Georgia Tech Head Women’s Basketball Coach MaChelle Joseph has put it out there — usually prefaced with something along the lines of “A lot of people don’t know this, but…”

“We had to decide if we were redshirting Dawnn or not, because, a lot of people don’t know that Dawnn had two broken tibias and had to have two metal rods put in her legs in June,” said Joseph. “She was a little bit slow coming out of that and developing, but I watched her in the road trip out to the northwest and when we got back here and I thought she’s too good to redshirt.

“She didn’t even know it. She was just having tremendous pain,” Joseph added. “They had no idea that she had stress fractures and they had actually broken. She thought that she was just playing on stress fractures. They had actually broken. So she was in tremendous pain and she carried her team to a state championship.”

Maye completed the Panthers’ 26-4 season and her dream of a state championship by scoring 25 points, grabbing six rebounds, dishing out three assists and making six steals in the 5A State Championship Game, as Dillard topped Gulfport Boca Ciega, 53-44. For the year, she averaged 12.5 points, 9.1 assists, 5.6 steals and 4.0 rebounds and was named Florida’s 2010 Gatorade Player of the Year.

Big stuff on two good legs. Maye brushes off her heroics, however.

“I was going to the doctor like twice a week but I was getting the same results. I was doing what they were telling me to do but it didn’t get better,” she said. “Sometimes I felt like I didn’t want to do it anymore because it was painful but if you love something that much you just can’t let it go, so I just kept playing.

“It was my senior year and I just felt like I had to win, so I was going to do whatever it took to get to the State Championship,” she added. “I just felt like I had to fight through everything. I know it was painful but I just felt like I had to get the job done.”

Junior Chelsea Regins isn’t surprised by Maye’s gallantry.

“That’s how we’re wired, to play through it, play through the pain,” said Regins. “Our coach in high school, Coach [Marcia] Pinder, told us a lot about being tough and demanding more of yourself.”

Regins probably knows Maye better than anyone on the team, as they were teammates at Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and have played together since both were pre-teens. Maye first appeared as a blip on Joseph’s radar while scouting Regins.

“We saw her when we went to recruit Chelsea and we just continued to recruit her,” said Joseph. “She’s a tough kid. That’s a kid that you want playing your point guard position.”

She still is, even through the recovery process.

Joseph’s loyalty in sticking with Maye, has stuck with Maye.

“I always knew Coach Jo was there for me,” she said. “Even when I was in pain, she was asking about what was going on with my leg. She was always there for me through everything. Coach Jo was always there.”

Now Maye is trying to be there for Coach Jo and the Jackets. She’s averaging 2.3 points per game in a little less than 11 minutes, but is starting to make a bigger impact. In the three games preceding Thursday night’s ACC opener against North Carolina, Maye had played 19, 22 and 20 minutes, putting together games off eight, three and six assists, scoring eight, nine and two points. She only saw the floor for one minute in the ACC opener, but that is something likely to change soon.

“We’re going to need her down the stretch,” Joseph continued. “She creates shots, she had eight assists and six assists. Not too many point guards since I’ve been at Georgia Tech have done that in limited minutes.”

“I’m expecting a lot more from her come ACC,” added Regins. “Hopefully she steps up and in the minutes that are provided for her she makes the best of the opportunity.”

Maye is working her way into a crowded rotation that includes junior starter Metra Walthour, junior Mo Bennett and sophomore Sharena Taylor, but her skill set is finding her extra minutes.

“I like to push the tempo and find my teammates,” said Maye, who calls New Orleans Hornets point Chris Paul a model, and whose cousin is guard Cam Long, who stars at George Mason and is a two-time (this year will be three) All-Colonial Athletic Association selection. “I like to push it and make the pass and make my teammates available.”

“She can find the open person. She sees people,” Joseph said. “Everybody in the crowd is watching one person, she finds somebody else. We recruited her from the time that she was a freshman until her senior year, for four years, so we’ve watched her grow into the player that she is.”

As that growth continues, her role continues to be a work in progress.

“I’ve just go to do whatever my team needs me to do,” she said. “I’ve got to bring more to the table for my team.”

The possibility that someday Tech will be her team is one that’s growing every day.

“I’ve been very impressed with Dawnn Maye,” said Joseph. “I really think the sky’s the limit for her. She’s going to be a terrific point guard in this league. I think the future is very bright with Dawnn Maye and Tyaunna Marshall on the perimeter.”

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