By Mark T. Adkins
For The Republic
NORTH MANCHESTER — Three hundred eighty points, 360 assists, 97 games played.
They’re just numbers to Manchester University women’s basketball assistant coach Jocelyn Hamilton.
The 2011 Columbus North and 2015 Manchester graduate understands what she gained most from her time as a Spartans player and now coach. It doesn’t deal with those career totals or the won-loss records she’s aided in.
“It comes down to the relationships,” she admitted. “I’m sure many people say that but, for me, it is 100 percent true. So many awesome memories with former teammates and classmates and now the same as a coach. It’s been a tremendous learning experience from the day I arrived.”
Flashback to September 2011. Hamilton was coming to North Manchester after playing in the highly successful Columbus North High School program from which many teammates went Division I.
“I didn’t see the court until my sophomore year, and I wasn’t one of the top individuals (in the program),” she reflected. “Those days helped me develop a feeling of always wanting to be in the game … always disliking being on the bench.”
That gritty attitude made the trip north with her to then Manchester College. Looking back on the first couple of seasons, when a torn ACL ended her freshman year, and she had to work back into the lineup as a sophomore, Hamilton admitted there needed to be some personality changes on her part.
“(My freshman year) was tough … it was hard not playing and being on the floor (with the team),” she remembered. “I was also trying to work through maturing myself for not only the college game but college itself. When the ACL occurred, I kept thinking ‘Why is this happening to me?’ It came down to understanding life and becoming a stronger person. I was a little selfish early on, but when I was ready for my junior and senior years, my mental approach was completely different. I wanted to be a leader on and off the floor.”
The turn to leadership opened more doors. After graduating, she’d received an offer to become Brownsburg’s junior varsity basketball coach. However, Manchester head coach Josh Dzurick would call from time to time telling her former assistant Heidi Messer had moved on in her career and that he was looking for a new assistant.
“In the beginning, I wasn’t quite sure (about coming back),” she said. “I hadn’t been out of school that long and was looking to possibly try something new. (Dzurick) kept visiting with me, though. Our relationship had become very strong as I progressed through my playing days. I had and have a tremendous amount of respect for what he does for this program on and off the floor. He’d do anything for anybody at any time of the day or night … that’s the type of person he is.
“So, as I thought about it, I figured this would be an excellent way to add experience down the road,” she added. “It has been, too. (Coaching) was a little difficult early, because of friendships I’d made as a player with some of the others. (That situation) has turned into mutual respect between myself as a coach and the players.”
What does the future hold? Hamilton is taking things day-by-day, but coaching is still part of the thought process.
“My dad (Hauser girls coach Brad Hamilton) would love for me to be a head coach and have him as my assistant,” she said with a smile. “We’re a basketball family, so I’m sure the rest of them wouldn’t mind that, either.”
Continuing a path in a game she loves.
And not worrying about the numbers.