Scarbrough reflects on uncommon path from Queens to Siena
by Bryan Fonseca
Dec 26, 2017 | 8188 views | 0 0 comments | 202 202 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Today, Siena senior guard Kollyns Scarbrough can reflect back on her humble beginnings with satisfaction and a sense of pride. She can also laugh, because Scarbrough’s uncle reminds her how bad she was at basketball when she started playing in the fourth grade.

“I just wanted to play, I wasn’t very good, my uncle tells me all the time, ‘you were pretty terrible at basketball,’” she said with a laugh. “I definitely wasn’t one of those kids you’d see and say ‘she was naturally talented.’”

Back then, Scarbrough commuted from Jamaica to her grandma’s neighborhood of Queens Village to play basketball at Our Lady of Lourdes after convincing her mother, who opposed at first.

Scarbrough, who originally ran track before following her brother to the hardwood, didn’t only play basketball at Queens Village, it’s where she grew up.

At the request of her mother, who wanted to keep her daughter away from Jamaica, Scarbrough would troop it back and forth between the Queens neighborhoods, using her grandma’s zip code to do things like play sports in her home away from home.

“The area wasn’t the safest place for me to travel by myself,” the young Scarbrough recollected. “My mom wanted me to be in an area where, no matter what, you could travel by yourself. We knew a lot of people around Queens Village being that my grandparents lived there so it was just a better area for me at the time.”

Of course, being so young at the time, there was some initial resistance at the thought of being away from her own neighborhood. Bouncing around between areas, Scarbrough felt that she didn’t fit in any groups, so she had a difficult time making friends at first.

But now, she’s thankful for the experience. She can see where it’s helped her grow as a person and build what she referred to as authentic relationships.

It was like learning how to network years before she would’ve been taught.

“I understand that it’s bigger than where you come from,” she said. “It’s more so about what you gain from being in that better neighborhood, being in that better school system and stuff like that. At a young age I understood that this is going to better me in the future.

“I went to a different school from the people I lived near, but that being said, when I started to make friends, they had more substance,” she continued. “It was based off connection on a personal level as opposed to ‘oh, we’re just from the same area.’

“I used that throughout high school, and I’m fortunate to have friends that I have now because in the end it taught me a lesson,” she added. “People make connections based off artificial similarities. Because I didn’t have those similarities when I was young, it taught me to make connections with people who are personally similar to you.”

As it turns out, relationship building with people has become a specialty for Scarbrough, so the fact that she has a lifelong dream of being a high school guidance counselor makes sense.

While she says she’d love to play basketball professionally, the psychology major and sducation minor wants to aid kids, using her distinct background as a tool to connect with them.

Early in her college life, she wanted to get into psychology, but the desire to pursue education grew after just one class in the field and a conversation with her professor, who urged her to use her background to help others.

"I explained my situation to her and she said; 'you could really have a future in helping kids do this, you know that right?” Scarbrough recalled. “Coming from high school and going through the college process, especially when it came to recruiting, I was fortunate to have guidance counselors to help me through that, I want to do the same for the kids.”

But for now, her goal on the basketball court is a MAAC Championship.

The 5-foot-10 Christ the King alum has had plenty of highs throughout her time at Siena. She is coming off of a preseason All-MAAC First Team selection, where she is currently averaging team-highs in points (13.4) and rebounds (7.1) per game with conference play looming.

The four-year starter’s also been a back-to-back All-MAAC Second Teamer, the beginning of which came on the heels of an All-MAAC Rookie Team honor. She says that while her and the Saints have gradually improved in conference play from fifth to tied for third over the last three years, there’s unfinished business.

“We've been building for three years,” said Scarbrough, who started the season with two double-doubles and a 30-point effort. "I think a lot of people doubted us. After seeing what we've done in the non-conference, seeing that we haven't even reached our full potential, I think we've got a lot of upside coming into conference and I can't wait to showcase that it to the world.”

The Saints (5-6) return to action to face defending MAAC Champion and 2017 Sweet 16 member, Quinnipiac, on Thursday, December 28, at 5 p.m. in Connecticut. Scarbrough will face fellow Queens native and CHSAA product Aryn McClure.
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