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Returning to the game

Always play hard because you never know who’s watching. It’s a cliché about sports and specifically when it comes to scouting and recruiting.

Kaylyn Chatman’s path to a basketball scholarship at Livingstone College proves there’s a lot of truth in that saying, even if a coach is watching you on tape, and even if some good fortune plays a role.

Near the end of her freshman year at Liberty University, where she was a manager for the Lady Flames basketball squad, Chatman started being recruited by college basketball coaches even though she didn’t know it.

“All of this was kind of unexpected,” Chatman, a Lakeland ’09 grad and Lady Cavalier point guard. A chance to play at Div. III Christopher Newport was the only offer she received as a senior. Instead, Chatman choose to go to Liberty and start on a nursing degree.

Chatman took on managing the Liberty women’s team, “just because I love basketball,” she said. “It was a way of staying involved.”

Chatman’s move from the bench back onto the court started with former Lakeland teammate and friend Terika Lunsford.

Lunsford went to Albany after graduating in ’09, but decided to transfer to a new school and basketball program during her freshman year.

Lunsford sent her high school tapes to schools, including North Carolina Central. Ironically, Lunsford wound up transferring to Liberty to join the Lady Flames in 2010-11.

“Central’s coach saw me on it and he liked the way I played, but he wasn’t looking for a point guard,” Chatman said.

Then Chatman got an assist from a former rival, but a good friend, former Nansemond River standout Trinese Fox, who’s now playing at South Carolina St.

North Carolina Central’s coach knows Fox and got Chatman’s contact information from Fox. N.C. Central’s coach also knew Livingstone and head coach Angelyne Brown, might be interested in a new point guard. The Lady Blue Bears were 10-16 last season and 6-13 in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association.

“Two weekends ago I visited the school and they had me go through a little workout session,” Chatman said. “Then they said they wanted me and they offered me a scholarship right then and there.”

According to Chatman, Brown was sure she was a true point guard just from the tape and the workout.

“I really wasn’t expecting the scholarship offer. It’s been a whole year since I’d been on the court playing,” Chatman said.

“I’m out of shape. I think I’ve gained the freshman 15, and I haven’t played for a whole year,” Chatman said.

Even with the scholarship and the chance to play basketball again, the decision to transfer wasn’t easy.

“It was difficult, mainly because by deciding to go there, I knew I’d have to change my major. There was some difficulty there and I’m still looking at what I want to do in my life,” Chatman said. Chatman’s nursing major isn’t available at Livingstone, so she’s switching to a criminal justice major.

“It was a hard decision, but this is a great opportunity and I had to jump at it,” she said.

“I had given up on basketball, but through the will of God all of this just happened to fall in my lap,” Chatman said.