December 21, 1998
by Bernie Cafarelli
Christmas is the season of giving and receiving. It is also a time
for reflection and a chance to give thanks.
In the spirit of Christmas, senior guard Danielle Green has many
reasons to be grateful this holiday season. Green is the leading scorer on
the Notre Dame women's basketball team which is off to its best start in
school history. The Irish, who earned a Final Four berth in 1997 and an
appearance in the Sweet 16 in 1998, are 7-1 and ranked sixth nationally,
their highest ranking in school history.
Green has been instrumental in Notre Dame's vault into the top 10
and has helped Notre Dame knock off three top-20 foes in the four it has
played this season. The only player to have scored in double figures in
all eight games, she leads the team with a 17.0 points per game average and
is second in the rebounding column with a 7.9 rebounding average.
But there is more than just basketball for Danielle Green. While
she has experienced success on the court this season, her greatest
achievement will come in May when she earns her degree in psychology and
becomes the first member of her family to graduate from college.
When she receives her degree, it certainly will be the proudest
moment for she and her grandmother, Evelyn Hackett, who has raised Danielle
since she was 14 year old on Chicago's south side. For Green, the degree
is a testament to her hard work and dedication; and more importantly, it is
an affirmation to those who may have doubted her abilities to succeed in
the classroom and on the court at Notre Dame.
"Statistics say that I should be in the projects of Chicago with
kids and on welfare," Green says. "But I beat the odds. My desire to
succeed both academically and athletically has come from the fact that I
wanted a better life for myself than what my mother has had. She only
finished high school. I want something more.
"Even when I get my degree in May, I won't be done," Green
continues. "I want to get a master's, and maybe someday, even try for a
doctorate in sports psychology."
Driven and focused. Danielle Green always knew what she wanted.
During her four years of high school she pursued her one dream and goal -
to attend Notre Dame.
When she was just seven years old while watching an Irish men's
basketball game on television, she saw an institutional spot about the
University during halftime. She doesn't remember why she was so captivated
by the school. Green would regularly remind her mother of her desire to go
to school at Notre Dame. Her mother, knowing the family's financial
situation, could only smile and would tell Danielle that if she wanted to
go to school at Notre Dame she would somehow have to earn a scholarship.
The move to her grandmother's at the start of her freshman year of
high school, forced her to wake up every day at 5:45 a.m. for the next four
years. After taking two trains and a bus to Roosevelt High School, which
was on the north side, Green would arrive to school at 6:45 a.m.,
participate in the school's Junior ROTC program, attend classes and then go
Discipline was the key for Green in her pursuit of coming to Notre
Dame. The adversity she encountered growing up did not deter her from
achieving her dream.
"My life has been about overcoming adversity," Green says. "I
didn't get a lot of guidance; my mother really wasn't there for me. In
many ways, I had to be responsible for myself."
Green had almost given up on her dream of playing basketball and
attending Notre Dame. But in February of 1994, her coaches Jerry Taylor
and Dan Walters were contacted by the Notre Dame staff and informed them
that they were very interested in recruiting Danielle. It was all the
incentive she needed as she finished her prep career averaging 27.0 points
and 9.0 rebounds during her final scholastic season.
"I didn't hear from Notre Dame until the middle of my junior year,"
Green says. "I had started to think early on into my junior year that my
dream wasn't going to be a reality. But the highlight for me was when I
received that scholarship offer. There were some that doubted that I would
make it here."
Green herself even doubted if she would make it here during her
first two years. As a freshman, she saw limited playing time, and 20
minutes into the first practice of her sophomore year, the season in which
the Irish went to the Final Four, she tore her Achilles tendon and was
forced to watch from the bench.
"The struggles I had my first two years on the basketball court
didn't allow me to enjoy myself," Green says. "I did pretty well in the
classroom, but I didn't have the opportunity to appreciate what Notre Dame
had to offer."
Watching from the sidelines that year inspired Green and redirected
"I missed playing basketball a lot, but the year I sat was perhaps
the best thing that ever happened to me." Green says. "I matured a lot
both as a player and person. I find myself now, especially in summers
while I am here, walking around on campus with a big smile on my face. I'm
so appreciative and thankful for the opportunities I have had here at Notre
Dame. I put the negatives behind me and followed my heart and my dreams."