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Southern's Dayna Scott is still big on assists

In 1985, Dayna Scott closed out her high school basketball career at Southern High in Harwood with 2,064 points and also led the Bulldogs in assists. Since then, assisting others has been a way of life for the Annapolis resident.

Scott now works for the YWCA as a crisis advocate at a safe house for battered women and children in Anne Arundel County. She fills up much of the rest of her time mentoring youngsters at the Y, volunteering as a girls basketball assistant coach at Southern and helping her son, Kelvin Brooks Jr., prepare to move out on his own.

"All she really does is give," said Brooks, 22. "She loves to help people and do everything to make them feel better or be better. She will help anybody that she can."

Even a child who entered her life when she was just 20.

After her freshman year at George Mason - where she led the team in assists - Scott returned home, she said, to work and help her mother, who was a single parent. In March 1987, a friend asked her to baby-sit for his 3-month old son. Twice, she said, she agreed to keep the baby a little longer, but the father never returned.

She took on the responsibility of raising him, working two jobs to support them. Five years later, Brooks' mother signed over custody, Scott said.

"I just got attached to him as well as my family got attached to him. If I had to do the same thing over again, I would."

When Brooks was about 5 she told him the whole story, but he said he has always considered Scott his mother. "For somebody to take on a child who is not even theirs and for me to be raised so well and with so much love, I could never thank her enough for everything she did for me," Brooks said. "Not only is she my best friend, but I consider her my guardian angel."

Southern coach Linda Kilpatrick, who has remained close to Scott, remembered not hearing from Scott for about a year and then finding out about Brooks.

"Her story was just unbelievable. Her love for kids is just unbelievable," Kilpatrick said. "Helping people is her true calling. I just wish she could be repaid more for as much as she gives."

In November, Kilpatrick surprised Scott, 42, by retiring her jersey in a ceremony during the Bulldogs' alumni game.

With Scott, Southern became the first team to win three straight state titles, going 69-9 in those three years. The Bulldogs had No. 1 rankings and Scott was the All-Metro Player of the Year as a senior, averaging 26 points, nine rebounds and six assists.

She won so many trophies from the time she started playing at about 9 that little Brooks said he used them as action figures.

Her 2,064-point total still reigns among girls and boys at Southern and ranks among only a handful of 2,000-point scorers in state, behind Curley Jones, a 1988 Arlington Baptist graduate, who holds the Baltimore-area girls record with 2,586.

"As an all-around player, Dayna was the best I ever coached," said Kilpatrick, who has won five state titles in 36 seasons at Southern.

Bulldogs point guard Brooke Echard said she and her teammates are constantly amazed by Scott's game.

"You wouldn't expect a 40-year-old to get up and down the court like she does," Echard said. "She can take everyone on our team and probably everyone in the county."

Scott's only basketball regret is that she never had a chance at the WNBA. All set to try out for the Washington Mystics when the franchise began in 1998, she broke a wrist three days before.

"My son asks me how I feel about the WNBA sometimes. He asks me who do I think now is better than me when I played and I say, 'I don't think nobody's better than me, Brooks.' If I were to get back in shape and do it, I would still try it. One of the reasons I went back to school was the WNBA. I thought I might have a chance," said Scott, who spent a season at Fayetteville State when Brooks was 10 but returned home because, she said, she didn't want him to think he was losing another mother.

Her comments don't reflect a cocky attitude, but rather a confidence in the level of her game. Scott became the first woman to compete in a men's league in Annapolis and later played on a men's team at Fort Meade.

Kilpatrick believes Scott would have made it in the WNBA. "There's no doubt in my mind, because there are players that she played against who are in the WNBA who I think Dayna is better than."

Instead, Scott has a career that she enjoys, working with the women and children at the safe house. She makes sure the residents have everything they need - from food and clothing to transportation to job interviews - to start a better life.

"To hear some of the stories that some women go through and then some of them just want to go back to their abusers," Scott said "We try and persuade them that they don't have to live that type of life, give them hope to get back on their feet, convince them they don't have to be battered so they can be more independent."

She also has helped take care of relatives, including her mother, who uses a wheelchair because of rheumatoid arthritis. "I just try to stay busy all the time, so whatever I can do to help somebody, that's what I do," she said. "We never know what's going to happen to us in life, and we all hope that we would get the same from somebody else."

That carries over to the basketball court at Southern, where Scott teaches the girls lessons on and off the court. Kilpatrick "always tells the stories about me and what I accomplished," Scott said. "I just try to let them know that anything is possible and you can be as good as you want to be and just don't let anybody tell you you can't. If it's something you want to do, just go for it."

Echard, a junior, said Scott has inspired her and passed on her passion for the game.

"Some days I just want to quit and she's like, 'You can't do that.' She taught me to never give up and always try my hardest."

Kilpatrick has tried to persuade her to take a head coaching job, but Scott prefers to stick with her mentor.

"She has been great for my program," Kilpatrick said. "I think the girls need female role models. There's not a lot of us left. I'm so fortunate to have her here as a female role model, also an African-American role model for these girls and they do look up to her, because she can not only talk the game, she can play the game. She inspires them, and she wants the tradition of the program that she helped establish to continue."

Alumni Report Each week, The Baltimore Sun will catch up with a former area high school sports figure. To suggest former athletes or coaches to be considered for Alumni Report, please e-mail sports@baltsun.com.

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