From playing at Hahnville to coaching in the Final Four
While events this weekend proved disappointing for the Lady Tigers, Ama’s native daughter, Dana “Pokey” Chatman discussed the long road to success she has travelled, coming a long way since her days of Biddy Basketball. As the coach of LSU’s Lady Tigers Basketball Team, Chatman has lived up to the great legacy left behind from former coach, Sue Gunther, taking the team to two Final Four appearances.
“So much of my basketball started through Biddy Basketball. I played with guys because there weren’t any girls’ teams back then,” Chatman said.
Being used to playing with boys, when girls’ basketball finally started she faced a dilemma: “I had a choice to make. In my eyes, I didn’t know other girls played basketball,” saying that she was a little resistant to play with girls at first. “Once I did cross over, it was wonderful,” she said recalling the awards that she won through the years with Biddy program. Chatman said overall that it was incredible learning experience.
As for who was instrumental is shaping her future in basketball, Chatman said a relative, Jeffery Wilson, who had played in college and professionally overseas, pushed her hard. Apparently, sometimes a little too hard: “He took me outside in the heat and beat me up a little,” Chatman amusingly recalled. “My mom would threaten him if he hurt me.”
Making her run on the levee, it was the rigors of Wilson’s guidance that helped Chatman develop into a star by learning the sacrifices. “He was the one early on that really taught me,” said Chatman.
In addition to playing AAU Basketball, Chatman excelled at Hahnville, going to the Sweet Sixteen twice but never making it to the final. Her skills, hard work and tenacity as teenager got her a scholarship to LSU, where she would play under the woman she would one day take over for, Sue Gunther.
Although Chatman has reached the top of her profession, taking over for Gunther has been bittersweet. It was Gunther’s decline in health and death that captapulted Chatman to head coach. Not only a boss, Gunther was much more to Chatman: “I miss my friend. She was my coach; she was my mentor.”