Follow the bouncing ball.
After an abbreviated stay at Washington State, former Ferris volleyball and track star Missy Blackshire finishes her volleyball career at UC Santa Barbara.
A few years later, she gets a visit from another Saxon, who brings along Lewis and Clark graduate Tyrone Dineen.
A few years later, Blackshire and Dineen married.
A few years later, even with two children of their own, the Dineens have become surrogate parents for one of the most highly recruited female high school basketball players in the country.
There are several interesting bounces to the story, including the latest.
Dineen was recognized in a recent Los Angeles Times story for his work with Reshanda Gray in an afterschool program he runs in L.A.
When Gray, a 6-foot-3 center who was a sectional player of the year as a junior, was invited to the USA U-18 tryouts, she accepted through Blackshire, whom she called her godmother, according to a USA Today story.
Did we mention that Blackshire is also an environmental and land use attorney in Los Angeles?
“I have a really great husband,” she said. “He helps me juggle everything.”
Blackshire, who moved to Spokane when she was about 10 years old, was always busy.
She graduated from Ferris in 1998 after winning her second straight state championship at 800 meters. Her best time – 2 minutes, 10.15 seconds – still left her as the 10th-fastest half-miler in state history entering this season, the third fastest in Spokane history.
But she was best known as a volleyball player. She was the Greater Spokane League MVP her senior year when she helped the Saxons win their only state title and signed with the Cougars.
“I consider myself a volleyball player but now, in my old age, I wonder what might have occurred if I pursued track,” she said. “I got more enjoyment out of team sports.”
By then her family had returned to Southern California and midway through her sophomore season at WSU she decided to move as well.
That’s when the bouncing ball picks up speed, considering that transfer to UCSB was barely a decade ago. She graduated from Southwestern University School of Law, which is in Los Angeles, in 2006.
“I always wanted to be a lawyer,” she said. “I thought criminal law, but I hated it.”
It was at her first job, at a midsized firm outside of L.A., that she “accidentally” got placed in the land use department. Now she helps clients negotiate the maze of environmental laws.
She was immersed in work when Mariah McConnaughey, a former Saxon, came for dinner and brought along Dineen, who had migrated to L.A. “for no real reason,” his wife said, after running track at Idaho.
“I knew of Tyrone,” Blackshire said, “but I was friends with his sister.”
That was about when Gray met Dineen, who steered her toward basketball and off the streets where she had watched people get shot and stabbed.
“If it wasn’t for basketball, I’d probably be dead or in jail,” Gray told The Times. “Basketball opened the gate of opportunity for me.”
“I’ve worked with hundreds of kids,” Dineen said. “But there was something about her personality, her being happy all of the time through everything, that made me take a special interest in her.”
Gray has become part of the family that includes Mckayla, 2, and Quentin, 9 months.
“She’s a great kid, the kind anyone would gravitate to,” Blackshire said. “It’s evolved from buying her a pair of basketball shoes to now she’s pretty much one of our own.”
Blackshire now finds herself asking college coaches the questions she never thought of when she was that age.
“It’s a lot different,” she said. “I’m definitely into asking questions like an adult. The basketball piece isn’t as important to me as much as the academic and people piece.”
Blackshire hopes basketball opens the same doors for Gray that volleyball opened for her.
“Every single interview I’ve had, since forever, we talk about having played an NCAA sport,” she said. “In my experience, employers value the life lessons you learned from playing sports whether it has anything to do with the job.”