University of Southern Indiana's student publication | USI | student newspaper

The Shield

University of Southern Indiana's student publication | USI | student newspaper

The Shield

University of Southern Indiana's student publication | USI | student newspaper

The Shield

Seniors reflect on experiences as student-athletes

Meredith Raley
Meredith Raley, senior forward, drives to the basket in the Ohio Valley Conference Championship March 9. (Photo by Elizabeth Randolph and USI Athletic Communications)

What was the moment in your athletic career when you knew you’d made it?
“There’s different points throughout my career where I can say that I’ve made it. I think in high school, it was probably winning sectionals and with my team. And then in college, man, winning the conference regular season. I think that was definitely the moment for me in college.”

Looking back at your four years, how do you think you’ve changed the most from an academic and an athletic standpoint?
“Becoming a college athlete is a huge adjustment, especially coming from high school. I think personally I’ve learned how to be a much better communicator and how to plan things out better, like time management, scheduling out things because we have such a rigid schedule and we’re always doing things, and then I would say athletically, just knowing what’s right for my body. When I like treatment, that type of stuff is so important. Definitely, my body has changed in the weight room. I’ve gotten a lot stronger. And obviously, my basketball game as well. Like I’ve flourished into the player I’m supposed to be, and I really am happy with it.”

What advice do you have for incoming athletes for this program?
“If you’re coming in, you’re gonna be playing basketball for Coach Stein. I mean, you just got to give it your all and give 110% and fully invest into what he does because he’s been doing this a long time, and he knows how to do it and do it right. And, yeah, just listen to him. Listen to your upperclassmen because they’ve been through it, and just fully give 110% of yourself, and you’re gonna be good.”

What’s the best advice you’ve been given or a quote that helps drive you?
“I think one of the best quotes that comes to mind right now is something that Stein says quite often. He will say, ‘Make getting better every day your goal,’ and I think if you wake up in the morning and you think, ‘Okay, I’m gonna get better today,’ then you really put your mind to that, and then you make it happen. There’s some days where it’s not going to be you getting better physically. Are you getting better academically or athletically? It’s just like you doing what you need to do that day, and then you’re getting better.”

Every athlete has music, or perhaps they listen to a podcast before competitions. What do you listen to when you go out there and compete?
“Mainly, like on my ride over, I listened to a lot of Post Malone. Whenever I’m coming over to that arena, I like listening to Post Malone, and I really like country music too. It doesn’t really matter what genre or what type of music it is just as long as I’m listening to something, I think that helps a lot. So I can listen to like any type of rap, R&B and then country music as well.”

What do you think has been the biggest key for success this season?
“On June 4, when everyone came to campus in the summer, I think that was when everyone just bought in, and we said we’re not going to have a repeat season from the season prior, and we’re just going to focus on getting better every day and doing what we can do to win basketball games. And we’ve done it. I think we’re so good because everyone’s in the gym, getting extra shots, we’re able to make a basket in crunch time and really lock down on defense, and that’s something that we work on every single day in practice. So I think overall, we’re all really invested into it.”

When you look back at your collegiate sports legacy, what do you want to be remembered for the most?
“I just want to be someone that inspires little girls to get out there and do what they want to do, no matter if it’s a boys’ sport or a girls’ sport, or if they’re comfortable doing it or not. I just want to be someone that makes little girls get out of their comfort zone and not think, ‘Oh, I can’t do this because I’m a girl.’”


Donnevun Banks
Donnevun Banks, senior diver, completes a dive at the A3 Performance Invitation Nov. 9. (Photo by Quinton Watt and USI Athletic Communications)

What was the moment in your athletic career when you knew you’d made it?
“One event that definitely let me know I’d made it was when I made the jump from DII to DI, being that it’s still a college sport, but there’s always that goal in the back of your mind like, I wish I could be DI. I wish I could go DI. When I made that jump, that was like, ‘Wow, like, I made it. Like, I’m in that top percentage of athletes. Like that’s insane.’ And then again, back in DII as well, I qualified for the national championships. Once again, it’s still one of those events. It’s like insane that you can qualify for, but it wasn’t as big as when I made it to DI.”

Looking back at your time at Maryville University and then at USI, how have you changed both from an athletic and an academic standpoint?

“I just ended my gymnastics career, and diving was kind of still a side hobby, so I wasn’t really experiencing the stuff that I did learn, you know, kind of developed in college. So that jump from there was great to see and great to move from when I came here because this was more experienced, and I have more knowledge. And then academically, I mean, my way I studied once again, I came in as like a high school kid. Going into college, I wasn’t really aware of how to operate college or how to function. I had to build different study habits and more of a set plan in order to be strong inside and outside the pool.”

What advice do you have for incoming athletes for this program?
“I would say, definitely get out there and get involved on campus. Take the time to learn, where your classes are at, what the campus all has to offer and have fun. Reach out to teammates, reach out to different athletes. The coaching staff here is very friendly and very open, and they’re here to help you, so ask a question. Don’t be afraid to ask a question. If you don’t want to ask your coach directly, ask a teammate. They will help you out as well. We have different programs in place that will help you get the answers you want to get but definitely come in here. Have fun, be relaxed and enjoy the ride.”

What’s the best advice you have been given or a quote that helps drive you?
“The best quote, one I still go by, is ‘Trust the process,’ which was Joel Embiid. It seems kind of like, I guess maybe corny or like kind of lame to pick that one. But at times, you just have to truly trust the process. You can’t rush it. You can’t underplay it. It might be hard, might be a challenge. If you just stick with what you’ve been taught in the pool and outside of the pool, it’s going to pay out in the end. And then advice is to just breathe. I’ve had numerous people telling me this. I can’t say one person particularly told me this, but numerous coaches and professors have told me just to breathe. When you get a little bit too excited or too worked up or nervous or stressed out, just take a step back and breathe. Everything kind of mellows out, your mind is clear and you’re able to attack what you need to attack.”

Every athlete at any level has music or maybe they listen to a podcast going into competitions to help get them into that competitive spirit. What do you listen to when you go out there and compete?
“Sometimes it just depends on what’s in the playlist, but typically, during a meet date, I’m probably listening to Jersey club music or like Kaytranada, different types of dance music or maybe rap or R&B. Typically I would say it’s probably Jersey club.

This season has been remarkable, coming off an impressive performance at conference championships. What do you think has been the key to your success?
“Definitely, that goes back to my teammates on deck. Nathan Deputy is another great person that’s helped me on the boards and off the boards, pushing me to reach my heights in the pool and then outside the pool, you know, doing homework with him. Along with Colton Tang as well. He’s been a huge factor. He’s a constant motivator. He’ll notice and pick up on things when maybe I’m getting worked up or whatever. He’s there to pick me right back up.”

You have all the accolades and accomplishments as an athlete, but when you look back at your collegiate sports legacy, what do you want to be remembered for the most?
“I would love my energy and care for the team, my leadership skills, I guess you could say, be remembered. You know, athletic-wise, that’s cool. Like, I think that’s cool, but I want to be known more than just someone who put up points or someone who contributes to, like, the legacy. I’d rather be known for the energy he brings on deck, how supportive he is on the pool deck and off the pool deck and just how nice of a person I am overall.”

What’s next for Donnevun Banks? What do you plan to do to make your mark on the world?
“I would love to go into the education system and be a PE teacher and then go into coaching as well. So right now, I’m looking at graduating and going into teaching and then still being active in the sports realm, whether that’s diving, whether that’s like football or whatever. I just hope to inspire the youth, and really anybody, but inspire the youth and give them an opportunity that maybe I didn’t get to do so.”