Baileigh Sinaman-Daniel was kicked off the varsity roster of her high school basketball team during her senior year three years ago.
The now-20-year-old told WLOS, “I got bullied a lot. I got called a whole bunch of names, even when I did play in high school. I got called names by people from my high school and people from other schools we would go play. But I never once let it stop me.”
Despite the fact that she was born with only one arm, Sinaman-Daniel chose to pursue her dream of playing in college.
“I remembered that I still had film from when I played, so I made little three-minute clips of me trying to play basketball, even if it was little things like a good pass or me getting out of traps. I sent that film out to as many coaches as I possibly could. And within all the no’s, I kept trying to tell myself there would at least be one coach to maybe say yes,” she recounted to GMA.
Soon after, the young athlete caught the attention of Robin Martin-Davis, the athletic director and head coach of Warren Wilson College’s women’s basketball team, who invited her to a prospect day at the Swannanoa, North Carolina, school.
“Baileigh came to that. She drove hours with her dad to come to that prospect day. So, I knew right away, she was motivated. She was really great on defense, and I couldn’t tell that she was any different than any other player. And so, I liked that she didn’t ask for accommodations or anything of that nature. She just played,” Martin-Davis recalled.
According to Sinaman-Daniel, she loved the atmosphere and the Warren Wilson Lady Owls did not hold her back, so she joined them the following year.
“They didn’t tell me to stay out of this drill because it did require two hands. Coach Martin, she never once mentioned that. She kind of just let me do me, and I loved that,” she expressed.
Currently, the aspiring athlete is a psychology major who not only plays guard for the Division III team but also for the liberal arts college’s women’s volleyball team. Sinaman-Daniel is able to compete with her fellow student-athletes, according to Coach Martin-Davis.
The dedicated coach said, “I wasn’t going to give her accommodations unless they were necessary. I hold Baileigh to the same standard as everybody else. She doesn’t get to look at me and say, ‘I can’t do this.’ It’s not you can’t do it. We’re gonna figure it out — unless it’s something like for jump roping. We got her a Skip It [toy] this year. There really are times that it’s appropriate.”
Sinaman-Daniel’s passion for sports is evident in her demeanor and hard work on the court. Both Sinaman-Daniel and the coach expressed hope that others would be able to see past obstacles and discover their own unique strengths.
Martin-Davis said, “I think it’s so easy to find the negatives in every situation and we take a lot of stuff for granted. And when you look at Baileigh, there’s no room for it. I look at Baileigh every day and think like, ‘She’s out here doing the same stuff. People strive to play college basketball, especially women, and Baileigh is doing it, and she’s not complaining [about any challenges].'”
To which Sinaman-Daniel added, “I really just want people to take away that you really should bet on yourself, even if you feel like nobody really has your back out here in this world or if you keep getting told no or that ‘You can’t’ or that ‘You won’t.’ Don’t listen to what other people say at all, because if I did, I don’t think I would have been here. I would have stopped the minute that I got cut my senior year of high school if I did listen, but I kept trusting myself and I trusted the process and now I’m here.”