Ramatoulaye Sy never thought she would be a basketball player.  After all, she didn't learn to play the game until 13, and most young girls in Senegal are not encouraged to play basketball.  Growing up in Thies, Senegal, around the corner from SEED Academy, she urged her mom to let her join SEED Girls upon it's opening in 2013.  Rama's mother was reluctant to let her join for fear that Rama's performance in school would suffer -- she was at the top of her class.  

By 2014, Rama convinced her mother to let her join SEED and she has flourished ever since (in fact, her grades went up after joining SEED Girls!).  After spending one year at SEED Girls, Rama finished at the top of her class and earned a scholarship to continue her studies and play basketball at the Masters Academy boarding school in Dobbs Ferry, New York -- the first SEED Girl to matriculate to school in the United States.

Rama arrived to Masters in Fall 2015 as a sophomore and quickly adjusted to the rigors of her new environment.  She routinely finished on the honor role in her classes and starred for the Girls Varsity basketball team.  Unfortunately, Rama's basketball season was cut short after she tore her ACL in January 2016.  But this did not stop Rama.

This year, Rama is back on the court for the Masters team after a successful rehab, and continues to excel in the classroom.  

We recently caught up with Rama in Manhattan when the Masters team played Lehman Prep.  Rama reflected (see below) on her first year in America and the talented, Steven Counts, captured Rama on the court as she dominated her competition.


My First Year in America, By Ramatoulaye Sy

I’m writing to tell you how different the world looks to me now, how mature i’ve become, and how strong and confident I am now after my first year in the United States.

When I reflect back on my life and childhood, I was a shy girl who knew what she wanted but wasn’t courageous and confident enough to do it. I always backed-up when it was time to step-up. I always got scared when it was my turn to act.  The only thing that was clear to me was school. 

I started playing basketball in 2012 and became part of the  SEED Family in 2014. Before attending SEED Academy, basketball was just a hobby. I played it because it was fun, and I never thought that basketball would become my passion that would completely change my life in all aspects.

My first year in the United States, especially at Masters, was amazing and challenging at the same time. It wasn’t easy to live in a country where you’ve never been before. On top of that, my English was not fluent when I arrived, but I learned how to be patient and how to self-motivate. Despite these challenges, I was lucky enough to be part of a welcoming and free community at Masters where everybody is equal no matter what your identity is.

The biggest thing that I learned this year was to not be scared to fail, but to be courageous enough to keep moving. It’s ok to fail, there is no straight road to success. No one wishes to get injured but it sometimes teaches you more than you expected. Tearing my ACL this year was not what I wanted to happen but it motivated me so much and made me stronger than ever. I know that life isn’t always full of joy and that people don’t realize how lucky and fortunate they are until something bad happens to them. This injury really makes me realize that time is precious.

The world looks very different to me now. I’ve became more open minded about life. It feel great to be back home even if Senegal looks very different to me now. I feel like people in Senegal don’t talk about a lot of things, like LGBT rights.  We (in Senegal) must devote more time to find out what’s going on around the world. It just shows me that life is full of experience, we can always learn more. The sky is the limit even if the sky has no limit.

I want to thank you for supporting me and encouraging me from the first day I stepped foot in the U.S. I wouldn’t be able to have had such a great and unforgettable year without your help, your care, and your support. I truly appreciate it.”

Masters vs Leman Prep by Steven Counts