Senior Gator inspires young team

Towering over her teammates, senior center Dominique Hunter leads the women’s basketball team as the team’s most experienced captain.

Standing at 6 foot 1 inch, the tallest player on the team by three inches, Hunter serves as the source of inspiration and leadership as the only senior on the team.

Then she’s known as “The Beast.”

“It’s because she’s aggressive,” sophomore guard and forward Michaela Booker said. “She gets the rebound. When we say she’s the beast, it gets us hyped up and excited.”

All of the team’s seven seniors graduated at the end of last season, leaving Hunter to take control of the team.

“I took it on willingly,” Hunter, a San Francisco native, said about her role as team captain. “I felt I was up to that level of leadership.”

That leadership has been recognized nationally as she was named 12th in rebounds with an 11.0 average and 20th in blocked shots with a 2.4 average according to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II statistical report.

“The recognition is great,” Hunter said. “Seeing how hard I work and how passionate I am will make the girls look up to me.”

Head Coach Joaquin Wallace has watched her grow in the past four years to become one of the team’s top players.

“I’ve had the pleasure the past four years to watch her maturate,” Wallace said. “The chance to watch her transform is a unique situation.”

With the only player on the team who has played over 100 games, according to Wallace, she’s the source of information for the team, where the majority of players are freshmen.

“She’s always been a person on the team but never a person with a voice,” Wallace said. “It takes a lot to make captain and she’s met the challenge.”

Wallace sees her as another coach on the court.

“She’s a student of the game,” Wallace said. “In Western Washington, she was drawing up plays on the blackboard, showing the team the plays during halftime.”

Michaela Booker, a returning sophomore, is one of the players with the most experience with Hunter.

“Dom is doing a really good job,” Booker said. “She’s encouraging and understanding. She’s selfless and she’s a good leader.”

Since Hunter is the player with the most experience on the team, she keeps everyone together.

“She works the hardest; she’s the loudest person during games,” Booker said. “Everything would be so hectic if she wasn’t around.”

Regardless, the season has been a challenge for Hunter and the team with the season ending soon and the post-season chances looking slim.

“It’s a pretty emotional time for me,” Hunter said. “No one knows what it’s like to have a few games left. I try not to focus on stuff like that.”

Hunter’s interest in basketball started when she joined a local San Francisco league in eighth grade after originally starting off with dance as a child.

Not holding any illusions about her skills, Hunter knew that she was chosen for the team because she was tall. But that didn’t stop her from devoting herself throughout high school.

“Everything was a lesson,” Hunter said. “I took it all in like a sponge. I didn’t get many opportunities then.”

Once she got to SF State, Hunter took those missed opportunities and applied them to the basketball team.

“I used those miss opportunities as my fuel,” Hunter said. “One of my proudest moments was freshman year when I got a spot over a junior transfer. When we won the next game, I felt my working hard was a big part.”

Being a leader to everyone is a large part of Hunter’s life.

“My little cousin just started playing sports so I try to be an influence on her,” Hunter said. “I also have two nieces and a nephew that are all under one so in time I will try to lead them as well.”

With three younger sisters and two brothers, Hunter’s family has always supported her, as she will be the first person in her family to graduate college.

But while Hunter is ranked nationally, she knows that education is the most important thing.

“I’m looking at master’s programs in sports management to be safe,” she said. “But if I get an opportunity to play, I’m going to jump on it.”

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