Jan. 27, 2010
by Josh Zywien, Melrose Free Press
Reprinted with permission from Gatehouse Media New England
MELROSE, MA-Three years ago, Melrose resident Lynley DeAmato was considering 12 different colleges and each of them shared the same major reason for her interest: basketball. So, the fact that DeAmato is now the starting point guard on the UMass-Dartmouth women's baksetball team shouldn't be surprising. Unless, of course, you consider that this is actually DeAmato's first year on the team. After a phenomenal high school career that ended with a trip to the TD Garden for the state tournament, DeAmato ultimately decided against playing basketball in college. "I was just burned out on basketball a little bit and just needed some time off," DeAmato said. "I just got to college and didn't feel the same about basketball. I wasn't sure if I'd ever play again, but I knew that those first two years I just didn't have the passion that I needed to have." Then the nightmares began. DeAmato was dreaming about basketball every night. She couldn't stop thinking about her decision to stray from the sport. Did she make the wrong choice? What if she never got to step on the court competitively again? "I really started to doubt myself and thought I'd really regret never giving college basketball a try," DeAmato said. "I finally decided to just go back to the court and see if I could still play." So DeAmato went to some shoot-arounds with one of her friends, Madison Malloy, a senior guard for the Corsairs. She was a little rusty at first, but it didn't take long for her to find a rhythm. UMass-Dartmouth head women's basketball coach Amanda Van Voorhis could barely tell she took time away from the game. "I actually recruited her when I was the head coach at Salve Regina," Van Voorhis said. "So I was surprised and thrilled when I found out she was on our campus and not playing basketball. It was great to get her on the court. I think she had to knock off some rust at first, but not much. She caught right back on." In only a half a season, Van Voorhis said DeAmato is already considered a leader on the team. "She's not a captain, but I think the rest of the girls, especially the younger girls, really look up to her," Van Voorhis said. "I really think she's only scratching the surface of her potential, too. With a full year under her belt, I'm excited to see what she can do next year." DeAmato hasn't regretted her return to basketball for a second. "It's been awesome," said DeAmato, who is one of the Corsairs' leading scorers this season. "I've been really honored to start as a point guard. I just love being part of a team. When I'm playing basketball, there's nothing else going on." She does miss some of the free time she enjoyed as a freshman and sophomore at UMass-Dartmouth. But, back then, there was almost too much free time. "I tried to focus on school work and adjusting to the college life and social life, and I was able to do that," DeAmato said. "But I was always trying to find something to replace basketball." So, instead, she replaced it with basketball ... again. So far, DeAmato couldn't be more pleased with that decision. "I used to eat, sleep, drink basketball in high school," DeAmato said. "I think I needed the time away to take a deep breath and just relax. But I don't know what I'd do if I had to walk away from basketball again." Van Voorhis said she's noticed that reignited fire in her point guard. "She does have an edge that some other players don't have," Van Voorhis said. "I think the time away re-energized her. Now she has a definite level of maturity that our younger players don't possess quite yet. She's a smart kid and she's really savvy on the basketball court." DeAmato isn't quick to praise herself, but does pride herself on leadership. With three seniors graduating from this year's team, the former Melrose High School star expects that she'll assume an even larger role next year. "It's going to be tough to make up the loss of those three seniors, but I'm really excited about next year," DeAmato said. "We've got a lot of talented freshmen, sophomores, and juniors that are coming back. If I can help lead that team, it would be awesome." For now, DeAmato is focused on this season. After two years away from the game she loves, she's learned to appreciate every practice and every game. "I definitely can't picture life without basketball now," DeAmato said. "I wouldn't change anything that I did the last two years. I think it was good for me. I wouldn't be where I am now if I had played. But I wouldn't give it up again." Judging by her sudden success, Van Voorhis and her Corsair teammates wouldn't give up DeAmato either.