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Feb. 19, 2003

By Cathy Bogniovi

Laughter is the spice of life. For sophomore Brandi Teamer, laughter has gotten her through some tough times.

“It’s definitely my personality,” Teamer explained of her comedy off the court. “Before basketball even came about, I was always the type of person where if I had any type of problems, I would laugh to keep from crying. That’s the way I feel about it. I think that brings a lot of joy.”

Teamer brings joy to her teammates on the court, too.

The 6-2 forward from Joliet, Ill., earned National Freshman of the Year, ACC Rookie of the Year and Virginia State Player of the Year honors last season as a first-year player while guiding the Cavaliers to their 19th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and a third-place showing in the ACC standings.

This season, however, hasn’t been as fruitful for Teamer and her teammates. Predicted to finish third in the Conference, UVa has struggled through three one-point losses and nine straight road losses.

“The hardest part about this year is just adjusting to not being a winning team so much,” Teamer shared. “It’s the losses. Nobody likes to lose, but I especially don’t like to lose when you’re breaking a tradition.”

But Teamer has kept her chin up. Averaging 13.7 points and a team-best 7.4 rebounds, the forward has taken time to reflect upon how far she’s come in the last few years.

“It’s funny. I didn’t start playing until eighth grade,” Teamer recalled. “I really wasn’t interested. I really didn’t think I was that good. In ninth grade, I had a pretty good leaping ability. I was grabbing the rim, but I wasn’t fundamentally sound as far as basketball was concerned. I was somewhat coordinated. I had the athleticism, but I didn’t have the skills that it takes. When I got into 10th grade, it started coming together a little more for me. My coaches and teammates encouraged me to stick with it. My junior year, I put more work into it, and everything started falling into place for me from then on.”

Following three years at Joliet High School, Teamer spent her senior year at the Berkshire School in Miami, Fla. Following graduation, she moved to Charlottesville to attend The Miller School.

“Debbie (Ryan) recommended that I go and do an extra year just for some prepping, some maturation off the court as well as on the court,” Teamer said. “I helped me so much. It helped me develop into a better athlete as well as a person and it prepared me for college life.”

The move also gave Teamer a new friend and confidant.

“Besides my mother, definitely Mr. (Lindsay) Barnes at the Miller School,” Teamer said of the major influences in her life. “He’s the headmaster. When I came to Virginia, I didn’t really know a lot of people. He was more or less like a father figure to me. I was a black, young female coming from inner city Joilet, 25 minutes outside Chicago, and he helped to adapt and adjust to the different lifestyle that I would be acclimated to in college. He helped me so much as a person. I didn’t have a father figure, so he’s probably the closest thing. Even now, if I ever need to talk to anybody, his phone will always welcome my call.”

This season Teamer received another gift to help her adjust- a teammate from home.

“I love it. I love it!” Teamer said of freshman Tiffany Sardin’s addition to the squad this season. “It’s made such a difference from last year to this year, because now there’s someone I really can relate to from home. I love all my teammates, but it’s nothing like having somebody that you already know and grew up playing with, and you know their playing style and their personality. We bond so well. I’ve always encouraged her to come to Virginia. I figured she could shine here, and I think she has even more to offer for the future.”

The Chicagoland duo hopes to brighten Virginia’s future- this season and in the next two years.

“Right now, we’re still in good shape to make the NCAA Tournament, but it’s a lot of pressure,” Teamer said. “I definitely don’t want to be a part of a team that breaks that (NCAA) streak. I also don’t want to be part of a team with a losing record. Every game counts from here on out. It’s not too late. I hope everybody realizes it’s not too late.

“My goals for the team are to make it to the Final Four. It’s never too late,” Teamer continued. “It probably seems farfetched right now, but you never know what can happen. I believe we have all the talent in the world. We just have to come together as a team and display it out on the court. I definitely want to win a national championship before I leave here. With the talent Debbie’s bringing in, I think that’s a very, very reachable goal.”

The anthropology major may be the team clown, but she can be serious.

“I definitely have a very soft side to me,” she added. “Underneath my goofiness, I have a very big heart.”

And a hearty laugh.

Off the Court with Brandi

FAVORITES:Food: pizza

Color: pink

Animal: cat

Hobby: shopping

Movie: Set it Off, Parent Trap

Actor: Sean Connery

Actress: Sanaa Lathan

TV Show: Martin

Book: Disappearing Acts

Children’s Book: Cat in the Hat

Song: What’s Love Got to do With It by Tina Turner

Music Video: Thriller

WNBA Team: Los Angeles Sparks

Pro Team: Chicago Bulls

Athlete: Venus Williams

Spot on Grounds: The Pavilion

Class at UVa: Physics 102

In my free time, I try to catch up on my sleep.

A bumper sticker that best describes me humorous

If I had to play another sport at Virginia, I would play tennis.

Three words that best describe me humorous, generous, kind-hearted

The best thing about being a Cavalier is the fan support.

I chose Virginia, because of the family atmosphere and academic reputation.

My goals for the season are to take Virginia to the Final Four

I admire Debbie Ryan, because of her patience.

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