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 to practice.
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 her focus.
"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."