On the basketball court College of Engineers and Surveyors of Puerto Rico (CIAPR), the leader of the U-17 women’s National Team and veteran player, Pamela Rosadomerged into a hug with one of his “students” in the national program.
At the request of The new day, Rosado arrived at the facility. And on this occasion some feat of the captain of the adult national team was not celebrated. With that gesture of affection, Rosado celebrated the success of his pupil Dianne Crespo.
“It’s your time, not mine.”Rosado said at the beginning of the interview.
And Crespo, an outstanding 17-year-old basketball player, recently committed to studying and playing in the Sacred Heart University, in Connecticut, where it will participate in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I tournament starting next year.
Contrary to the trend of young basketball players who seek to leave Puerto Rico to study at an intermediate and higher level in the United States with the aim of having better exposure to Division I university programs, Crespo obtained the scholarship by developing, since he was 6 years old, on the island.
“I feel blessed because there are few girls who can say – being here, in Puerto Rico, which is a small island with few resources – that they have been selected (for a Division I university)”shared the young woman, a native of Rio Grande.
The Sacred Heart University coaches set their sights on the guard-forward when witnessing her performance with the U-17 National Team. With this quintet, directed by Rosado, Crespo won the gold medal in the Centrobasket Tournament held in Nicaragua last August.
“I had more options for universities, but since I started talking to the coaches (coaches) I loved it. I went to university and just by seeing her, my heart went there“added the five-foot-ten-inch (5’10″) tall player, who averaged 9.8 points, 10.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game at Centrobasket.
Although she could choose to finish her high school studies in the United States, the twelfth grade student at Colegio Adianez, in Guaynabo, decided to graduate in her homeland for reasons that surpassed her sporting aspirations.
“Clearly, I had the opportunity to go to the United States to study, but the process was going to be difficult because financially we were not going to have the resources to pay for an apartment. We are a family of four and we weren’t going to split it into two here and two there. So I decided to stay here and work harder,” Crespo emphasized.
The decision appeared to be part of an already established plan for the career of the youngest of two sisters.
“As I once read, ‘the gods of basketball, when you do things well, they will find you anywhere.’ We are from the countryside in Rio Grande and the basketball gods went to look for us there and we thank God for that”, commented, for his part, his father Godfrey Crespo.
Rosado, for his part, highlighted the skills and qualities of the young basket player on and off the court.
“Dianne is a great human being. I think that’s the key piece. She is humble and has enormous talent, but those characteristics have made her an exceptional being.”Rosado described.
“Dianne is multifaceted on the court. She can play one through five. In the youth National Team I have her playing all positions and she can do it because of her height and the way she plays. “She believes in the team and she is a great leader,” Rosado added.
“We will soon see her in the adult National Team, without a doubt,” stated the also member of the Montaneras de Morovis in the Women’s National Superior Basketball (BSNF).
“We deserve the same treatment”
With the desire to improve himself in basketball daily without having to leave his island, Crespo practiced on cement courts and under the sun. His purpose was always to improve his skills, but also to emulate figures like Rosado who, likewise, developed completely in Puerto Rico.
“Everything can improve, not only the women’s program, but also the resources that they provide to us women. Sometimes we don’t have the courts (available) like the ones men have, and it’s unfair because we do the same thing and I think we deserve the same treatment.”denounced Dianne.
Rosado agreed with Crespo about the state of sports facilities in the country, but preferred to highlight the quality of the coaches, who work hard to contribute to the development of the youngest girls.
“Maybe many times we don’t have the best fields or the best resources, but we do have great talent in coaches and we see it in Dianne. So I am extremely happy and it has been a huge pride to be part of her training,” said the pilot of the U-17 national team.
“Happy for the opportunity that is being presented to Dianne. We have many very good players, who have gone to the United States, but Dianne believed in the process and she believed in the Puerto Rican coaches,” Rosado added.
In addition to Rosado, Michelle Gonzalez, director of the youth National Teams program in the women’s branch, is another of her inspirations, indicated Crespo. Likewise, he mentioned Mirna Lorawho was his first coach when he debuted in basketball at CIAPR and Jose Gabriel Ruiz.
However, of all the figures, Crespo highlighted that of his parents and his sister, Darhyana.
“Mommy (Darlene Lopez), daddy, and Darhyana… this victory is more theirs than mine, since they are always taking me to practices, no matter where they are,” shared the future psychology student.
And Crespo’s success is linked to a family sacrifice.
“There are no words that can describe what one feels… the pride one has in one’s children, seeing the sacrifice, the work, everything that we as a family have achieved with her and she has achieved as an individual. It is an incredible pride and it is a blessing from Father God that, as a family, he has been able to give us this opportunity to enjoy this.”said his father.
“What I can say that set Dianne apart was that she liked to work. She always liked to be practicing, she liked to work extra and she liked to do her little things apart from herself. And that mentality of her to move forward, I understand, was what perhaps separated her when she was older,” Crespo added.
The tall player’s daily schedule is a busy one. Her day begins at 5:00 am, when she gets up to go to school, and ends at 7:30 pm, when she returns to her home, after going to the field.
“There are some times that we have to stay in the metro area and I have to change in the bathroom in Plaza (Las Americas) or something like that, to be able to get to practice because we don’t have time to return to Rio Grande,” he shared. Dianne.
At the moment, Dianne is playing her last year of Little Lads at the CIAPR, where he took his first steps in basketball.
“If it’s something you want and you really fight for it and you have the support of your parents, you can achieve it. Obviously, it’s something you have to work hard for because no one is going to give it to you. On the contrary, you have to work every day and if you do that, anything is possible,” stated Crespo, who also wore the colors of Puerto Rico at the FIBA Under-16 Americas Championship in 2021.
She received advice that helped her make decisions.
Although her parents were very close in the process, the young athlete also had the advice and help of other figures related to basketball.
“There have been people around us who have genuinely helped us as Gaby Ruiz, Gaby Delgado, Michelle, Pamela, Tayra (Melendez) and Jerry Batista. You have to look for people who will help you, who will tell you ‘look this is the way, we are going to do this, we are going to work on it this way’ because sometimes we strike without seeing and we are not helping our children,” commented the father of the basketball player