By Jeff White (email@example.com)
CHARLOTTESVILLE – It’s not unusual to turn on the television and see Chelsea Shine playing basketball for the University of Virginia.
A decade from now, don’t be surprised if Shine is still on TV, in a different role. A fourth-year from Wayne, Pa., near Philadelphia, Shine is interested in pursuing a career in broadcasting, and she’s been honing her skills as an intern for the Charlottesville radio station WINA.
In the fall, Shine had a myriad of responsibilities for WINA, one of which was to produce weekly reports and human-interest stories on the UVa football program. With basketball season under way, Shine isn’t able to do as much at the station, but her voice can still be heard periodically on interviews with student-athletes from UVa and in the community.
Shine does sports reports for the station’s ESPN affiliate (1450) and produces promotional spots for WINA’s Best Seat in the House program. Her sponsor is Jay James, WINA sports director and play-by-play announcer for radio broadcasts of UVa women’s hoops.
“She has a wonderful ability to implement concepts quickly when it comes to the communications business,” James said. “She has a wonderful vocal delivery, and she understands how to tell a good story. She’s an excellent interviewer because she takes from her own experience as a student-athlete, and she can apply it to her internship when interviewing other athletes … She has a ton of ability and a real future in radio or television if she wants it. We’re grateful to have had the opportunity to work with her in this capacity.”
Shine, a sociology major, is finishing work on her bachelor’s degree this semester. Away from the classroom, her main focus this time of year, naturally, is hoops. She’s a three-year starter at power forward for UVa (3-4, 15-6), which meets ACC rival Georgia Tech (4-3, 14-6) in Atlanta at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
The 6-2 Shine leads the Cavaliers in rebounding (6.2 per game). She’s second in blocked shots (11) and third in scoring (9.3 ppg). But Shine’s prowess as a player is not all that has impressed Joanne Boyle, UVa’s first-year coach.
“She does anything I ask of her,” Boyle said recently at John Paul Jones Arena. “If I said, ‘Chelsea, will you do five community-service events today?’ she would do them. She’ll just go out of her way to do everything. She’s just very organized, humble, great kid.
“She’s got a light about her. She’s one of those young people that’s got a light that’s very attractive. People are very drawn to her. And not everybody has that. She’s got something special with that.”
As a standout at Conestoga High School, Shine narrowed her college choices to UVa, Boston College, Virginia Tech, Florida and Miami. She took official visits to three of them: UVa, BC and Miami. The choice was clear to her.
“I think I just loved Virginia,” Shine recalled. “The distance from home to school was perfect, and the size of the school, and then the academics as well as the conference. I felt like I was kind of killing two birds with one stone. UVa played in an amazing conference, and then academics were something I got to take advantage of.”
When she enrolled at UVa in 2008, Shine fully expected to play for one head coach throughout her college career. Debbie Ryan retired after the 2010-11 season, however, and Boyle was hired. Boyle had seen other new coaches make a mistake she was determined to avoid, and she proceeded accordingly at Virginia, letting all of the returning players know how important they were to her and the program.
“I think the worst thing you can do is come in and start talking about getting your ‘own players,’ ” said Boyle, who has also been head coach at Richmond and Cal.
“When you take a job, those players that are currently there are ‘your players.’ I’ve always approached it like that. My first thought is always going in and embracing the entire team, and the seniors in particular, because it’s probably hardest on them. It’s their senior year, and they want to go out with a bang.
“Plus, they’re probably your better leaders, so you can really use them as a resource and ask them, ‘OK, what have you liked? What haven’t you liked? What’s been good? What hasn’t been good?’ They’re a good resource for you, and I think if you build their trust, then they’re capable of bringing the younger kids along.”
Shine was not difficult for Boyle to win over. Shine researched her new coach and liked what she learned about Boyle.
“I have the utmost amount of respect for Coach Ryan and the previous coaching staff that was here, but I know this program is obviously shifting a little bit,” Shine said before the season. “It’s a new era, and so I want to be a part of that, and so I know that in order to do that, I need to buy in.”
Shine’s message to the coaching staff, Boyle said, was direct: “I will do anything to make my senior year great. I want to make this team great. I’ll do whatever you need me to do.”
The new coaches, from Boyle to assistants Katie O’Connor, Cory McNeill and Kim McNeill, have rewarded Shine’s faith in them. Her final season has “been awesome,” Shine said. “It’s been so different. There’s just like a consistency factor with the coaches and the team, more so than there has been before.”
Virginia’s roster includes 12 scholarship players, but only nine are options for Boyle. China Crosby is out with a season-ending knee injury, and Sarah Imovbioh and Sarah Beth Barnette are not eligible to compete this season. Everybody who has played for the Wahoos this season also played for them in 2010-11.
“It is a different dynamic,” Shine said. “We’ve always been a close team, every year I’ve been here, but we’re all veterans now. This is at least our second year playing with each other. We all have this common goal, and when we hit adversity, we keep going. This team I feel like has been through so much together.”
If Shine seems especially mature for a college student, her trip to Vietnam last spring is one reason why she’s that way. She was one of 62 student-athletes from the ACC who participated in Coach for College, a global program that tries to promote higher education through sports.
Shine and her peers worked with Vietnamese coaches to teach children several sports, including basketball and soccer, as well as subjects such as health, physics and the English language. For more than three weeks, Shine was based at Can Tho University near Hoa An.
“It was absolutely a life-changing trip,” Shine said. “I feel like I learned a lot over there. Obviously, it was a huge culture shock. I got to see the people and kind of live with the people over there and learn some of the things that they did and how they live, which was awesome. It was a really humbling experience. I learned a lot of patience. I learned a lot about how to work with people who are so different than you, but still accomplish the same type of things.”
Shine has applied for an internship in the ACC Futures program, and if accepted she might spend 10 months working for Fox Sports Net or for the Orange Bowl after graduating from UVa. “If I don’t get that,” she said, “I would love to stay in Charlottesville.”
To say she’s enjoyed her time at the University would be an understatement.
“I remember being a first-year, and it just seemed like this big, huge, scary college. I remember saying, ‘How is this going to work?’ ” Shine said, smiling. “I remember looking at people like [then-teammates] Lyndra [Little] and Aisha [Mohammed] and Britnee Millner and everybody and just saying, ‘How do you make it to your fourth year? I feel like I will never get there.’
“And it flew by. And every time I think about it, I get nostalgic and emotional, just because I love it here, I love Charlottesville, I love the school, I love my team and the girls that I’ve played with. Both coaching staffs have just been great, and it’s a huge part of my life. People say, ‘College is the best four years of your life,’ and it truly has been so far.”
In Virginia’s loss to Duke on Jan. 2, an elbow knocked loose two of Shine’s teeth. She needed two root canals to fix her teeth, but Shine was back in the starting lineup Jan. 5 for the Cavaliers’ next game. This is her final season at UVa, and she wants to leave on a high note.
In each of her first two seasons, UVa advanced to the NCAA tournament. In 2010-11, however, the ‘Hoos had to settle for the WNIT, and they’re determined to return to the marquee tournament this year.
“That’s our big goal right now, to make an NCAA appearance and then obviously win some games,” Shine said. “I think it would be great, not only to end my career with a postseason appearance, but also to kind of get this program back to where it was.
“My freshman year, [an NCAA appearance] was something that was supposed to happen. Back then it was, ‘We’re supposed to make the NCAA tournament.’ To get back to that is what I want to be a part of and help contribute to that, too.”