Transfer student finds Carroll a better fit
Knowing when to stop, pivot, and take off in a new direction are critical skills in basketball and life. They served senior Lee Jennings well when she decided – halfway through her freshman year at Bowling Green (Ohio) State University – to transfer to John Carroll University.
Jennings signed with BGSU during her senior year at Stow-Munroe Falls High School in Stow, Ohio, but she decided to transfer shortly after the first semester started.
“It just wasn’t her cup of tea,” says Kristie Maravalli, the women’s basketball coach at John Carroll.
A big contributing factor in Jennings’ decision to transfer was when she heard Jeff Camp, who coached her in high school, had come to Carroll as an assistant coach.
“If it was good enough for him, I figured it was good enough for me,” Jennings says.
Although Camp’s presence on the coaching staff gave Jennings incentive to make the move to Carroll, she also wanted to be closer to home.
“Here, my family could come see me play,” she says, noting she comes from a tight-knit family with three younger brothers. “I just didn’t want to miss watching them grow up.”
Trusting her heart turned out to be the right move.
“Right away, I was a ton happier here,” Jennings says.
Not only was Jennings welcomed by coaches and teammates, she also found the size of Carroll perfect for her personality.
“John Carroll is small, but not too small,” she says. “I’ve met some of the best friends I’ve ever had.”
Having Jennings on the JCU women’s basketball team has been a great experience.
“She did well from the minute she walked in the door,” Maravalli says.
Jennings, who led the Ohio Athletic Conference in scoring and assists last year, is a fun person who always keeps Maravalli on her toes and connects well with teammates.
“On the floor, though, she’s a competitor – she makes no excuses,” Maravalli says.
Jennings has shown strong leadership qualities, too.
“She definitely can inspire the team,” Maravalli says. “She’s done a nice job of taking our competitive level up a notch. We’ve knocked out some top teams. When the going gets tough, Lee can rally the team to bring out the win.”
Jennings, who’s majoring in exercise science, is still deciding on her future plans. She’s thinking of becoming a personal trainer, or possibly going to graduate school to study physical therapy. One thing she knows for sure is she’s not looking forward to a life without basketball.
“Some of my friends who’ve already graduated told me not to do it,” she says. “It’s going to be different. But I love working with kids, and I can see myself coaching in the future. I’m passionate about basketball, and I want it to be a part of my life. Basketball has given me something that’s irreplaceable. I’ll have great memories of people, players, coaches … it’s meant more than I realize at times. More than anything, it has given me confidence to be myself.”
During her time at Carroll, Jennings has made friends with various people, not just those on the team.
“That’s what has made the college experience here so rewarding,” she says. “I don’t keep myself in a box.”
Jennings has volunteered with the Labre Project – an organization through which students, faculty, and administrators provide food, supplies, and friendship to the homeless in Cleveland – and tutored children in underserved schools. This year, she’s hoping to convince the entire team to volunteer with Labre. Still, her main focus is school and basketball.
“On the Division III level, college sports are more time consuming than people might think,” she says. “I try to stick with the basics.”
– Andrea McGovern