ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) The situation was becoming untenable.
Photo Source: KALB
In her second year as a member of the Lady Lions of Southeastern Louisiana University, sophomore guard Courtney Dawsey felt as if she wasn’t being given the proper opportunity to showcase her skills.
“Initially, I was excited our assistant coach (Ayla Guzzardo) was going to become our new head coach,” says Dawsey, who played for Guzzardo in high school at St. Thomas Aquinas. “That excitement faded quickly.”
After a stretch of games where she never even took off her warm-up gear, Dawsey realized her future wasn’t at Southeastern.
“We had our exit meetings, and I asked for my release papers. Surprisingly, they were shocked.”
127 miles west down I-10, Danyale Bayonne was experiencing a similar situation.
Bayonne, a graduate of Pineville High, entered the 2016-17 season at UL-Lafayette as the top recruit in her class. She appeared in one game before suffering a torn ACL.
“So I just started working to come back, then I come back, and I’m starting initially, but then we start playing the SEC teams….and my minutes just start getting cut.”
The frustration mounted for Bayonne as she saw her minutes dwindle as the 2017-18 season progressed.
Both Dawsey and Bayonne needed a change of scenery. For LSUA Head Coach Bob Austin, it was the perfect storm.
“We had just lost about 60-70% of our scoring, minutes. We needed to replace that,” said Austin.
Both Dawsey and Bayonne’s journey’s to LSUA are wholly unique. The thing bonding them together from miles away, though? Their personal pride in their skills, and their love of basketball.
“I had a connection with Coach Austin from Southeastern, so it was one of the first places I contacted.”
Austin’s Southeastern connection would prove fruitful in the recruitment of Dawsey. After being given her release papers, she was free to choose where she went next. After visiting LSUA, Dawsey’s decision became easy.
“I liked the distance from home. It wasn’t too far away, but far enough to where I could get away,” said Dawsey. “I visited and just loved everything about LSUA.”
Bayonne, being a Cenla native, was familiar with assistant coach Chris Johnson. Before even letting UL-Lafayette in on her intention to transfer, she gauged LSUA’s interest.
“They had an open spot, that’s what Coach told me.”
Bayonne was drawn to LSUA for the opportunity on the court, but also the opportunity to be back home.
“I’m a few minutes away, my family comes to every game. I’m home. I love it.”
“Chris and I talked a lot about the chance we have. We’re getting these two D-I kids in, and the potential is there. We could be pretty good,” said Austin. “But there was such little game experience, so little actual minutes played, we really didn’t know what to expect.”
Expectations were exceeded. The Gennies broke a record for wins in a season with 21, were ranked in the top 25 for the majority of the year, and beat a D-I team in an exhibition match when they took down McNeese St.
"Safe to say, this is a fun place to be right now,” said Austin, through a smile.
The two transfer players were a big reason why. Danyale Bayonne was named Conference Newcomer of the Year and made First-Team All RRAC, while Dawsey was named to the second team.
“I couldn’t be happier playing with girls that get along, we’re winning games. We’re going to compete for championships. Couldn’t have worked out better,” said Dawsey.
Bayonne shared the sentiment. “For me? It’s cool here. (LSUA) is growing, all kinds of new people. It’s fun being a part of this school and seeing the campus grow.”