By Chris Womack
ASHEVILLE, North Carolina (WLOS) — You can be any shape or size to play basketball for Warren Wilson, as long as you meet the other criteria of head coach Robin Martin-Davis.
“Biggest thing for me is just I would say heart and hustle all the time,” said Martin-Davis. “It’s just being able to work hard, really love to play defense as much as they do offense. Someone who is just a hustle player, on the ground, relentless.”
Relentless is a good word to describe sophomore guard Baileigh Sinaman-Daniel. “I honestly have always liked basketball since I was a kid,” smiled Sinaman-Daniel. “I had a very big crush on LeBron James.”
The game is a little different for the Virginia native. Sinaman-Daniel was born without a right arm.
“I got bullied a lot,” she sighed. “I got called a whole bunch of names, even when I did play in high school. I got called names by people from my high school and people from other schools we would go play. But I never once let it stop me.”
Basketball is a game where ambidexterity is a harped-on skill. Sinaman-Daniel didn’t have that luxury, but had to learn to adapt to a game where every other player she faced had two hands.
“I feel like the key to me was balancing the ball,” she explained. “Balancing the ball, not only on my arm, but my left side and realizing that like my left side is going to be my best friend.”
She played her first three years in high school before being cut from the team as a senior. Not wanting to let that be the end to her journey, she sent what film she had to coaches across the east coast.
“A lot of coaches did say no,” admitted Sinaman-Daniel. “But Coach Robin was one of the first ones to say yes, which is what drove me here and also pushed me to keep playing basketball.”
Martin-Davis invited her to a prospect camp over the summer after her senior year. “You couldn’t tell at that prospect day that Baileigh was any different,” she recalled.
“I wanted to be the coach that gave her an opportunity. I really believed in her, she was passionate and motivated, and so for me that was all I really needed to see.”
The Owls have helped her develop, both from a technical standpoint and with functional options. Sinaman-Daniel now wears a chest plate under her uniform to cushion the blow from hard passes that she has to corral into her body.
“She has to protect the ball when she dribbles, and can use her body to help with those aspects that other players don’t have to think about,” explained her head coach. “She has to catch and secure the ball and get it up with the same hand. So that’s a characteristic that we don’t think about with other players.”
Sinaman-Daniel described Martin-Davis as a “second mother” to her, one who re-affirms the same perseverance instilled by her parents.
“Even though like I have grown up with this arm my whole life, it does sometimes get to me,” she said. “Like little things here and there; why can’t I make a lay up sometimes, or sometimes my shot will be a little off because I don’t have that arm to balance the ball. But she’s always told me keep pushing, keep grinding, keep doing what you have to do.”
Sinaman-Daniel is still developing her game, chasing her best possible self on and off the court. While she understands college is most likely where her career will end, she also hopes that her presence and spirit can serve as motivation to the next girl or boy who gets told they can’t play the game they love.
“I hope that when people see me play that they realize that you really can do anything,” Sinaman-Daniel stated. “I know that’s a saying, but I want to be living proof that it’s possible.”
Please note: This content carries a strict local market embargo. If you share the same market as the contributor of this article, you may not use it on any platform.