Windsor Lancers

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Teammate Reflections of Erika Messam

Tuesday, May 6, 2014 -

"I am very grateful I had the opportunity to play three years with Erika Messam. Erika was such a great player, she made everyone around her that much better. The talent, aggression, and skill she brought to the court was just completely unmatched. I'll never forget playing pick up and always having to guard her. She would talk so much trash to everyone so we would all get mad and play harder. Some days those pick up games felt like the America East championship. No matter how hard we competed against each other on the court we always remained great friends and that is something I will always cherish. The impact Erika made at the University of Hartford will be talked about for a very long time and I can't think of anyone more deserving to be inducted into the Hall of Fame."
- Ikea Witt, Class of 2007

Wednesday, May 7, 2014 -

My fondest memories of playing basketball with Erika Messam were those rare instances in practice when I actually thought I'd tired her out and might be able to accomplish something...anything! Like get a pass off, drive towards the basket, maybe hit a shot, or steal the ball from her when she was on offense.

You have to understand I was often Erika's personal practice partner who got the glorious job of "trying" (notice the quotes) to stop her. My mentality most practices was to attempt to cheat into those passing lanes or "first" options in a play, as I knew every play our red team (starters) were attempting to run. This worked on some teammates...but not Erika.

She was the queen of giving a defender "false hope" because she'd put her hands on her hips and breath heavy and look all tired after scoring or doing a ton of work to get a teammate a wide open shot and you'd start to think, "Okay, I have a chance now...she's tired."

Then Coach Rizz would switch things up and put her on the white team, which I was always excited about no matter how beat she looked. Because that was the thing about Erika Messam, no matter what team she was on they would win...and she loved a challenge! Four starters on the red and her with the white team and she'd start going off (yes, this is right after her hands were on her hips and she looked exhausted).

The best part about being on the same team with Erika was how good she'd make you feel when you did something well. There was no bigger trash talker on our team, but there was also no bigger cheerleader. If you did something well she just about bowled you over with a hug (or one of her stinging high fives) and you couldn't help but grin from ear to ear because she also let you know when you were messing up (in an encouraging...motivating...get it together kind of way).

She read people well, knew how to motivate and totally lead by example on the floor. There wasn't anyone who played with the kind of tenacity that Erika did and we all respected her for it. That's probably why Coach Rizz made her our captain. She was a tenacious, competitive, winner...and we certainly did win during her time at Hartford I couldn't think of a more deserving person to go into the Hall of Fame. Congratulations E!
- Kate (DiDonato) DeLoureiro, Class of 2007

Friday, May 9, 2014 -

Erika was an unwavering teammate. No matter what was going on in her world, she kept it off the court and left her heart on the court. I couldn't think of a more deserving individual for this award-a wonderful player, teammate, mother and person. Like many of the players and friends at Hartford, I consider her a forever friend. With life after Hartford, she has been a sister, mentor and friend. From post player to point guard, much love, respect and honor for this achievement.

- Tanika Price, Class of 2005

Monday, May 5, 2014

Where are they Now? – Nikkia Smith --- Bringing Hartford Basketball to the Nation’s Capital

I can’t believe it has been almost a full year since graduating! But boy what a crazy and exciting year it has been.
After graduating last May, my Aunt graciously opened her home in Bloomfield to me, allowing me to live there through the summer. I continued working at Farmington Valley Transition Academy as a one to one specialist through the end of June.
At the end of August, I officially said goodbye to Connecticut and moved to Washington, D.C. for graduate school. Over the past eight months I have been working as the Graduate Assistant/Assistant Coach for the women’s basketball team and working on my Masters in Public Administration at Gallaudet University. Gallaudet is a private institution for the deaf and hard of hearing in the heart of D.C.
Competing at the NCAA Division III level, Gallaudet competes in the Northeastern Athletic Conference (NEAC). This past season the women’s basketball team finished 15-12 overall and made it to the NEAC tournament semifinals for the first time since 2010-11. Needless to say, it was a really exciting year for our program!

Attending Gallaudet has been a dream of mine for many years. I have truly been blessed with this opportunity to further my education and continue to be involved with basketball at the collegiate level as a coach. Living in D.C. has truly been amazing. I’ve had to make friends outside of sports, use public transportation and even live with people I didn’t know in advance! I know all these probably sound like minor accomplishments, but after being surrounded by wonderful teammates (who had cars) and were also easy to get along with, these are basically major milestones in life.

The players and staff of Gallaudet’s many athletic teams have taken me under their wings. They teach me new signs every day and challenge me even when I’m extremely uncomfortable. I have been able to transfer so many intangibles from what I learned at Hartford. It shocks me sometimes at how similar I sound to my coaches at Hartford.

I knew my coaches were smart while I was there, but they’re even smarter now that I can use some of the very same sayings I heard on a regular basis and see the impact it has on my players. Having the experience of being a Hawk has taught me more about life and management then I could have ever imagined. I am grateful everyday for all the experiences I have had.