By Brian Edsall
Whether enjoying courtside seats at a nail biting game, or through a living room television set, the thrill of basketball is unparalleled for spectators. However for those who play the game, basketball is more than just a piece of entertainment, for sophomore Casey Davidson and senior Kentrall Brooks, basketball is more than a game—it is a vital piece of who they have become.
“I have a really big basketball family,” the 5’10 guard from Staten Island, New York explained. “My mom and all of her sisters play basketball and all of my cousins play. My mom and dad played basketball together in college too.”
After only her second season at Marist, Casey admits that the transition to college basketball has been difficult. However, she cherishes the unbreakable bonds she has formed with past and present teammates.
Kentrall’s teammates have also had a significant impact on his decision making. A towering 6’8 center, he has completed his final season at Marist. However, he hopes to continue pursuing his passion for basketball overseas after graduation.
“I fell in love with basketball,” Kentrall said. “Every kid dreams of going into the NBA, but that’s not an option for everyone. My past teammates have motivated me through their success overseas. They’ve achieved their goals in basketball-wise, so I feel I can do the same.”
Basketball has changed their lives, so Casey and Kentrall have used their platforms as division 1 athletes to change the lives of others. On November 30, both Casey and Kentrall were nominated for the 2017 Allstate Good Works Teams® for being among college basketball’s finest in the areas of community service and leadership.
Both athletes have become role models for youth around the Marist community. “I have received so much help along the way. It’s nice to be able to give back,” Casey said. “When you do volunteer work you don’t do it to be recognized,” she continued. “It’s just really nice being there for other people.”
Kentrall is humbled by the stardom he has already received from his younger fans through playing for Marist. “The kids look up to us as if we’re NBA stars,” Kentrall said. “Working with younger kids is awesome because I love giving back. I try to be the role model that I would want to have.”
However, as with basketball as well as with life itself, there will always be hardships. The challenges which Casey and Kentrall have faced on the court have helped them to remain resilient throughout their lives while they have endured tremendous adversity.
Kentrall was born and raised in the Bronx, New York, but had to move to different neighborhoods with his family multiple times. His upbringing was difficult, but he has always been grateful. “I saw my mother struggle and work through tough times to support me and my siblings,” Kentrall said. “She showed me how I should live my life and how I should persevere when things get tough. She’s my role model.”
Kentrall did not participate in organized basketball until he was a freshman in high school. Up to that point and beyond, his mother emphasized the importance of maintaining high academic and moral stature—both of which he achieved.
Casey’s parents were also extremely influential in how she has grown. However, her life dramatically changed at a young age. Casey’s father, Scott Davidson, was tragically killed on September 11th while serving in the Fire Department of New York (FDNY). Casey was only three years old, but she will never forget how that day changed her life and the lives of her family members.
“Growing up and watching my brother struggle with [the events of] 9/11 made me want to help him in any way, or try to understand it,” Casey said. “My friends and family would definitely describe me as really caring. I always like to make sure that people know I care about them and I’m there for them.”
Casey is majoring in psychology in the hope that she can one day help children and teenagers who have experienced extreme trauma. By volunteering as a camp counselor, she has already impacted the lives of children who survived the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting of 2012.
“It takes tremendous strength to be able to go to summer camp and trust the counselors after the trauma they went through. It was so nice to make things better for them after they experienced something so scary,” Casey said. “I just really want to help people. If I could make a difference in people’s lives that would be enough for me,” Casey said.
“Just like life, basketball has its ups and downs,” Kentrall explained. “It’s going to be tough. Every day isn’t going to be perfect, but you just have to give your all in everything you do.”
“You just have to stay positive,” Casey added. “I like the word resilience. You just have to rise above whatever problems are thrown at you and be resilient.”