In between winning basketball games and going to class, sisters My’Asia and Sha’Dasia Alston have also have been committed to helping an important campus program.
Starting in the fall, the sisters got involved in the Collegiate Academic Support Program (CASP). They began working part-time for the program in late October, but put in hours far beyond the seven a week they were scheduled.
“Come back, go to class, come back, go to practice,” said My’Asia about spending nearly all of their free time at CASP.
CASP is located downstairs in the library, next to the LAC. The program provides academic services and a welcoming, inclusive environment to students to help support their college experiences. The mission of CASP is to “support academic and personal growth of traditionally underrepresented students by providing purposeful and holistic services within an environment that celebrates diversity, inclusiveness and community.”
“A big thing is the word ‘family’ because that’s what we really are. We try and make everyone feel comfortable,” said Sha’Dasia. She noted that they often chant “1-2-3 family” when the basketball team breaks huddle. The entire women’s basketball team takes advantage of the CASP program, and the Alston sisters believe that the time spent off the court helps them play better as a team.
It has been a successful season so far. The Vikings have a 16-8 record and recently beat a top team in the league, North Country. The regional tournament starts on Feb. 27.
“Now that we have beaten the number one, I feel like we can beat anyone,” said My’Asia.
Sha’Dasia said, “The way I look at it, any team can win on any night and it’s whoever wants it more.”
My’Asia has been a league standout this year and the Vikings leading scorer. She averages just under 25 points per game, and also averages over seven rebounds and five assists.
The Vikings star player gives a lot of credit to her sister for the team’s success as well. “I was happy she played this year because I thought she could be a big part of the team,” said My’Asia.
The sisters have been competing together since high school, where they played on the junior varsity and varsity basketball teams together at Cohoes. They also both ran track, and Sha’Dasia played a season of lacrosse and was on the cheerleading team.
“That’s the reason I played this year, to play another year with her,” said Sha’Dasia.
The sisters feel that playing sports together all of these years has benefitted their games. “I think we go harder on each other just to make each other better,” said My’Asia.
In addition to helping the basketball team, CASP coordinator Roy Pompey believes that the Alston sisters have been an asset to the CASP program. After formally working for the program all fall, they are now volunteering during the spring semester and still spending most of their time there..
“My job and the CASP program’s is retention. Along with myself, those girls are playing a major role,” said Pompey.
While helping other students, the Alstons believe the program has benefitted them personally as well. “It gives us a lot of experience interacting with people because that’s what we’re doing,” said My’Asia.
“You start with the premise that they are really good kids, and people are drawn to really good people,” said Pompey.
“It feels good knowing we can help [students] stay in school and feel comfortable,” said Sha’Dasia.
The Alston sisters are seeking to stay together in the next phase of their lives. My’Asia is looking at transferring to play basketball at a four year school in Florida and Sha’Dasia hopes to also go to the Sunshine State to enter a four year nursing degree program.
Both will be taking their experiences on the court and in CASP and applying them the their goals. Being a team leader, and helping the sick and injured both require strong interpersonal skills.