March 1, 2014
By Jon Cooper
The Good Word
The goal of every senior class is to leave the program in good position to grow going forward.
When the Georgia Tech Women’s Basketball senior class of 2014 takes its final bow tomorrow at McCamish Pavilion prior to the season finale against Boston College (tip-off is at 2:00 p.m.), it does so knowing that it gave its all and accomplished that goal.
Together guards Ty Marshall, and Dawnn Maye, center Shayla Bivins, and forward/guard Frida Fogdemark, often did it at the expense of personal glory. Senior manager Hannah Gebresilassie, who certainly fits the unselfish theme, also will be recognized.
“One thing I’ll say about this senior class, collectively, it was four of the most unselfish players that have ever played,” said Head Coach MaChelle Joseph. “They were always great teammates throughout their careers.”
The quartet — Marshall, Maye and Fogedemark came to Atlanta in 2010 (Bivins arrived in 2009) — was a part of the 2011-12 season, in which the Yellow Jackets won a school-record 26 games and reached the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history. But that would be followed by the nightmarish ’12-13 season, in which Tech finished 14-16.
As seniors, they would show their character, as they’re 18-12 heading into today’s game and appear bound for a return to the NCAA Tournament. The class goes for its 83rd win today.
“I have seen the highs and last year was, obviously, a rough year, but I’m happy with what I’ve done to help the team get back to where we want to and the goals we want to accomplish,” said Marshall. “It’s just a start of getting us back to the NCAA Tournament. We’re not going to be satisfied until Selection Monday when our name is called.”
Marshall’s name has been called plenty. She’ll leave Georgia Tech as the school’s all-time leading scorer and the first Yellow Jackets to surpass 2,000 points. She starts today 21st all-time in scoring in ACC history. This season she leads Tech in scoring (19.4 ppg, 21.2 in ACC play), rebounds (7.6, 7.5 in the ACC), steals (2.7 spg, 2.5 in conference play) and assists (3.3, 3.4 in ACC play). As important, she’s become the locker room leader.
“The impact that Ty had on this program will be felt for years to come,” said Joseph. “When you leave a program as its all-time leading scorer you’ve left your mark in the history books. But the thing that will always stand out to me about Ty was how she came in under the radar and surpassed everybody’s expectations, including her own. She did that through hard work. When someone is the best player or the leading scorer, to be your hardest worker, that just has a huge impact on the players around them.”
Marshall, from Upper Marlboro, Md., who chose Georgia Tech over Maryland, is proud of the group with which she’s leaving.
“It is definitely a special group,” she said. “It’s fun going out with these guys the way we’re going out.”
Maye personified sacrifice and unselfishness in her four years. She went full-circle, coming off the bench as a freshman, starting full-time as a sophomore, splitting time starting and coming off the bench as a junior then coming off the bench exclusively as a senior.
“I think the thing that will be most missed about Dawnn is she’s a chemistry maker,” Joseph said. “She’s one of those players that makes everybody smile and brings a tremendous amount of energy and has been instrumental in our recruiting process.”
Maye, who will finish in the top five in school history in steals and assists, will best remember the senior class’ resilience.
“We’ve gone through a lot, each one of our class, but we never gave up. We always pushed through anything,” she said. “I just have to say I’m proud that we made it through. We all stayed together and didn’t let anything get the best of us.”
There may not be anyone on the Georgia Tech campus, let alone the team, who has given more of herself than Bivins. The redshirt-senior center came back for her senior season even though she’d already graduated.
“The thing I will always remember about Shayla is how she came back for a fifth year when she didn’t have to,” said Joseph. “She wasn’t happy with the way things ended in her senior year and gave herself an opportunity to come back and turn things around. What she’s done in the community, what she’s done in the athletic department, with her leadership with SAAB. She’s just a tremendous person and leader and very unselfish and again another great teammate.”
Bivins has started all 28 games this season after making only two career starts coming into the season. Redemption was on her mind after her senior season. A winning record and getting to regularly contribute this year is sweet for Bivins, who redshirted during the Sweet 16 season coming back from a knee injury that came 11 games into her sophomore year.
She had no doubt she was going to go out on her terms.
“It’s really not in me to quit,” Bivins said. “I didn’t want to quit on myself or my teammates or my coaches and I’m glad that I did come back because we’ve had a great year and I was able to do some more incredible things for Tech and Tech has done some great things for me. So I’m very happy with my decision.”
Bivins did all this while serving as president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB), and as one of two student-athletes in the nation on the NCAA D-I Women’s Basketball Issues Committee. She recently was one of three Yellow Jackets student-athletes to receive an ACC Post-Graduate Scholarship. Seeing the team get back on the winning track makes for a nice ending to her career.
“I went from not playing at all to starting every game this season and it’s really rewarding,” she said. “It’s such a blessing to be able to be in a position that people and little girls dream about. I dreamed about when I was a little girl. I’m very thankful for that.”
Fogdemark quietly went about her business in her four years but her perseverance spoke volumes.
“Frida has been one of the most consistent people that I have ever coached,” said Joseph. “From the day she stepped on campus she was always someone you could count on. She’s probably one of the best teammates that some of these players have ever played with in the four years they’ve been here because she’s so reliable and consistent.”
The native of Södertälje, Sweden, was one of three Swedish recruits to come over in 2010. Despite seeing her playing time decrease her commitment to the team never did. She’s grateful to Joseph for her personal growth.
“I’ve definitely grown as a person,” said Fogdemark, who shot a career-high .326 from three-point range in the run to the Sweet 16. “To Coach Jo, it’s really important how we grow as people so after we graduate we will be successful in life. When I first got here, speaking English in front of people that I didn’t know was so scary. I’m more confident in myself and speaking in front of people.”
All four will receive their diplomas in their next official visit to McCamish on May 3, Graduation Day.
Marshall (Management) has her sights set on the WNBA, Maye (History, Technology and Society) is weighing a hoops career overseas or pursuing her Master’s while contemplating a jump into the music industry, Fogdemark (History, Technology and Society) expects to continue playing with the Swedish National Team then do something working with people, while Bivins (Science, Technology and Culture), is weighing getting her law degree, at Georgetown, ironically, the school Tech beat to get to the Sweet 16, or getting her Master’s in Sports Administration at North Carolina, which Tech conquered in that year’s ACC Tournament.
Today also will be bittersweet as far as their bond with the fans.
“Our fans really mean a lot to us,” said Fogdemark. “We have some fans that come to every single game and you talk to them after every single game we play. Just thinking that this is the last time that I’ll be able to play a game and then go up and talk to them, is something that I’m really going to miss.”
“It’s the last home game in front of the fans at Tech and playing on this court, added Marshall. “It will be emotional but it will be fun and I’ll be excited for it.”
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