WBB grieves death of former teammate

Seton Hall Athletics

The Pirates’ women’s basketball team has won six straight, and are eying up a seventh consecutive win when they kick off a three-game home stand on Sunday, Feb. 1 against the St. John’s Red Storm.

A spotless 13-0 record at home has a lot to do with the Pirates’ success this season, boasting a 19-2 record overall and a Big East-best 8-1 record in conference play. But the jubilation following Sunday’s 99-85 win in overtime at Georgetown has faded in the wake of the passing of former-Pirate Shannise Heady.

Heady played her freshman season with the Pirates in 2012-13 before transferring from the program to Eastern Michigan to be closer to her family. Heady passed away early Sunday morning after she and another student were involved in a head-on two-vehicle collision. Janee Johnson, a graduate student transferred from Seton Hall the same year Heady arrived as a freshman, she remembered her former teammate as someone who could light up a room.

“It was devastating,” Johnson said. “She literally lit up the room, she was always smiling. She had the best personality you could possibly think of—always bubbly…Always excited just about life. It’s something that you just don’t want to hear, especially that type of person because she was so influential in other people. She was gone too early.”

Ka-Deidre Simmons, a redshirted-sophomore when Heady came to Seton Hall, called the loss tragic and one that has impacted the team.

“It’s a tragic loss,” Simmons said. “Our team is still suffering and trying to recover from it.”

Tabatha Richardson-Smith and Heady were part of the team’s freshman class that arrived to South Orange in 2012, along with Sydney Cook (since transferred to Virginia Tech) and Jasmine McCall (since transferred to Monmouth). It was during that freshman season that the four lived together. Richardson-Smith called Heady a “great person.”

“People who knew her—she never had an attitude,” Richardson-Smith said. “Even looking at pictures, nobody can believe that she’s actually gone.

For me, it hit me the most because I didn’t even get to enjoy the win. I stepped off the floor to the news and that’s just not something you want to hear after a win. My bus ride home was sad. People feel it—but that was my classmate. It was four of us coming in, and now it’s just me.”

A grieving Seton Hall team will look to recover from tragedy as they kick off a three-game home stand with Big East-rival St. John’s on Sunday, a game that is sure to be a harsh environment for the visitors inside a place head coach Tony Bozzella called the “hardest place to play in in the Big East.”

“They’re not just here, they’re loud, they’re encouraging,” Bozzella said. “They get the girls going when we struggle a little bit. They make it a really difficult place to play in.”

Neal McHale can be reached at neal.mchale@student.shu.edu or on twitter @nealmchale.

Author: Neal McHale

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