Dec. 31, 2011
Before Shantale Bramble-Donaldson ever thought about dribbling a basketball, the Louisiana Tech senior forward was picking up a different skill set ... this of a musical variety.
"I grew up loving music," Shantale said. "I play a lot of instruments. I play the piano, the bass guitar, the drums; I used to play the saxophone. I just love it."
From "before I could even remember," Shantale said she was following her father Eliston Donaldson around Quebec, Canada as he played with his Jamaican reggae band.
"I used to hear the music and just want to play," Shantale said. "I would go watch my dad all the time. I loved doing it. I watched him doing it and tried to do it myself. He saw I had an interest in it so he began to teach me. Then I started going to music class."
Reggae is a music genre first developed in Jamaica in the late 1960s and which is most easily recognized by the rhythmic accents on the off-beat, usually played by guitar and/or piano.
Shantale and her father both come by their love for reggae music honestly. Although Shantale was born in Quebec, Canada, her genes come from the Caribbean - "My mom is from Montserrat, a little island in the Caribbean, and my dad is from Jamaica."
She says her favorite reggae artists are Beres Hammond, Sanchez and Glen Washington. You can almost hear the beat of the reggae drums now.
"My favorite was the drums ... always ... but I was always better at the piano," Shantale said. "My dad played the guitar and piano. The reason I was so good at the piano was I had a really good ear for music. When I was six-years-old, I could listen to a song one time and play the whole song on the piano. My dad didn't understand how I could do that. He played instruments for years, and even he couldn't do that."
Whether it is from her cultural background or whether it is from her association with the music through her father's band, Shantale said that her love for reggae runs deeper than just the beat of the drums.
Reggae and her love for the game of basketball were two things that she was able to take with her when she moved from Quebec to New York at age 13. It was a transition that didn't come easily for the teenager.
"At first it was hard for me," Shantale said. "I was so not aggressive. Canada is a quiet place, friendly. New York is so fast and aggressive. It was really hard for me to adjust to it, especially because of basketball. In Canada you don't come across too many competitive girls. In New York, everyone wants to play ball. It doesn't matter ... size, age, ethnicity. Everyone wants to play ball."
Shantale, whose last name is a hyphenated version of her mom's - Thelma Bramble - and her dad Eliston, said that she was able to make the adjustment thanks to her family. She also quickly learned "when in New York, do as the New Yorker's do."
"Most of my mom's family lives in New York," she said. "Even though Quebec is big, it wasn't like I went everywhere. In New York, because of basketball, I traveled everywhere in the city. I knew how to get everywhere by every train. That is just how it was."
After playing four years at the Manhattan School of Science and Math in New York, Shantale moved to Florida where she earned third team all-American honors at Indian River State College playing for current Lady Techster assistant coach David Caputo during her two years.
She has spent the past two seasons in Ruston - a far cry from the big city lights of the Big Apple - where last year she helped guide the Lady Techsters to the Western Athletic Conference championship title and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Heading into the Christmas break, she was averaging 10.5 points and 7.2 rebounds per game during her senior season.
The sociology major who is minoring in kinesiology said she isn't sure what the future holds following college.
"I want to go into sports medicine," Shantale said. "Hopefully I have a basketball career after college, but eventually I want to go back to school and study sports medicine so I can work with sports teams."
Or if all else fails, she could always pick up those drums again.