HILLARY SMITH: Hammond's Scott comes home with new perspective

2012-11-25T20:00:00Z HILLARY SMITH: Hammond's Scott comes home with new perspectiveHillary Smith Times Columnist nwitimes.com
November 25, 2012 8:00 pm  • 

DaLita Scott saw athlete after athlete declare criminal justice as a college major, and thought it was too easy.

Fascinated with technology, Scott instead went to junior college and then Florida Atlantic as a computer science major.

When she reached Division I, the 2008 Hammond High grad learned why so many athletes she knew had become criminal justice majors.

"With our travel schedule and when we'd be playing games and how much we'd be away, it was too much time for me to keep my computer science major," Scott said. "I had to change to criminal justice. I didn't want to, but sometimes you have to do things you don't want to do. As I thought about it more, there is such a variety of things I could do with a criminal justice major that it was worth the change."

Scott graduated from Florida Atlantic this year, and by October found not one, but two jobs helping children.

The first pays the bills. She's a case worker with Dockside Services in Highland, matching foster children with foster homes in Lake County and bustling some back and forth to meetings with biological parents.

The second job keeps her in basketball. She reunited with former Hammond High girls coach Lawrence Chase, now at Clark, joining his staff as an assistant.

"I think it's such a testament to the type of person she is," Chase said. "She's someone very dependable and handles a lot of responsibility, and even on the Division I level, they saw some of those qualities and trains in her. As part of our program, it does wonders for the future of what we can accomplish."

Scott said she's thrilled to work with all types of kids at all types of levels. In the morning, she checks in on at-risk youth. By afternoon, she runs drills with the basketball team. At night, she returns to finish driving foster children around the area.

"I love working with kids, all kinds of kids," Scott said. "I like that I can be someone for them, someone they can call anytime they have trouble. In my job, it's up to you to build a relationship with the kids, see them advance and succeed and be a positive influence."

In addition to her success at Florida Atlantic and John A. Logan College, Scott was a Times All-Area selection in her senior year.

Chase wonders whether the Pioneers understand her achievements.

"We had a real influx of girls come out this year, and for a lot of them, this is their first time with basketball. They don't understand the difference between Division I and Division III; to them it's all just basketball," Chase said.

Bringing more athletes like Scott back to the area could only improve region basketball.

"They don't understand how far basketball can take you," Scott said. "I knew it could take me far, but I had to work at it. I set a goal, and I knew I could get school paid for, but I worked and worked and worked to get that goal. All of these girls (at Clark) could be that good if they work. It could take you places. I've been amazed everywhere I've gone."

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach her at hillary.smith@nwi.com.

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