By Nick Lopez
At a dominant height of over six feet tall, #33 forward/center Tiffany Thompson of the Brooklyn College Bulldogs Women’s Basketball team never imagined life would turn out the way it has.
Although she has been with the Bulldogs for just two seasons, it was her experience with basketball in high school, at Southern Connecticut State University and at Medgar Evers that shaped her into the determined athlete she is today.
Through all of her experiences, Thompson recalls the hardest aspect of the game.
“If you’re not doing as well as you want to, or your team’s not doing as well as you want them to, and something is getting harder and your coach is pushing you, it’s a lot easier to just give up,” Thompson said.
“To fight through that, that’s the hardest thing. If you don’t fight through that and decide to just give up, then you’ll never know how it feels to succeed.”
She has surely fought hard to obtain her current status, and there is no doubt that her teammates and coaches have noticed.
“She’s a great person, always motivated, always willing to help her teammates out,” said Zoe Randolph, a fellow Bulldogs teammate.
What also motivates her is the most rewarding part of the game; the people she has met, which make the season that much better. Through basketball, she has found friends for life.
When she was younger, she played basketball in elementary school, but dance- (ballet) was more of her thing. People suggested she would be good at basketball just because she was tall, but she tried her best to stay away from it.
However, destiny called and Thompson fully embraced the game once she entered South Bronx High School.
One particular outing during her ’04-’05 season may have helped that. She scored 33 points and recorded 41 rebounds in a game against Bronx Science. She also helped her team win a division championship in the ’06-’07 season.
After high school, she attended Southern Connecticut State University Division II, where she played the ’08-’09 season.
As a freshman, Thompson did not see much action. She posted an average of only 1.3 points and 2.3 rebounds a game.
She sought a full scholarship, but only obtained a partial one halfway through the year. Thompson could not afford to stay, and made the choice to come back to the city. Though it was not what she hoped for, she benefitted from it in a lot of ways.
“That was a big change from high school,” Thompson said. “I don’t regret going there either because if I didn’t go there, I probably would not have ended up at Brooklyn.”
But Thompson did not have an easy time back in the city. All the CUNY schools ended their admissions and she ended up at Medgar Evers.
In her one season there, she led CUNYAC with 18.6 points per game. She also had 15.7 rebounds and 3.4 blocks. Her 15.7 boards per game was ranked 2nd in NCAA Division III. Her stellar stats stood out for sure, and she had fun, but Medgar Evers wasn’t the right setting for Thompson.
“Medgar Evers is kind of like high school, not even the team part, just the school itself,” Thompson said.
“It’s not a horrible school, but just the environment. It’s easy to get distracted and that’s the main reason I didn’t stay there, because I wanted to graduate on time.”
She went on to Brooklyn College and joined the Bulldogs for the ’11-’12 season. Head Coach Alex Lang was no stranger to her. She remembered him from high school.
“One of the tournaments I played in, I didn’t have sneakers on. I had school shoes. He was trying to recruit me and he was like, ‘Hey, come to Brooklyn and we’ll get you some sneakers!’” said Thompson.
“I didn’t notice until he came and told me the story and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that was you?’”
New to the school, she found difficulty in getting used to it. She tried to see where she fit on the team and off the court. Eventually, she got more comfortable and it showed.
Last season, Thompson played in all 30 games and started in 28. The forward/center averaged 6.9 points, 8.4 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 19.3 minutes per game. She helped lead the team to an undefeated conference season and an appearance in the ECAC Division III Women’s Basketball Metro Tournament, which came after a loss to Baruch in the CUNYAC Championship game.
After the season, Thompson was discouraged to the point where she did not want to play anymore. She first flirted with that idea in her first college year, because the transition from high school was so difficult, but this time, her mind was set.
“I felt like it wasn’t making me happy anymore,” said Thompson. “It was more like a job than a hobby or something that I like to do.”
Ultimately, she changed her mind, and does not regret it.
In the 29 games played this season, Thompson averaged 9.0 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. Things did not go exactly according to plan, with a loss to Baruch in the CUNYAC Championship game for the second year in a row.
“It still lingers,” said Thompson. “I still think about it, but how long can I hold on to it? It’s a loss. It’s going to be something that triggers a memory, but what can I do?”
Things got back on track when it was announced that the Bulldogs earned the top seed in this year’s ECAC Division III Metro Women’s Championship Tournament.
Their 70-50 victory over #8 seed Purchase College Panthers in the ECAC Quarterfinals on February 27th set their 23rd victory of the season and advanced them to the semifinals against Knights of Mount Saint Mary College. Thompson scored a key three-point play shortly before intermission in a game where the Bulldogs never trailed.
With a 15-2 record at home this season, Thompson definitely points to the Bulldogs’ fan base as a big help.
“You don’t get a chance to tell the fans thank you a lot and that you appreciate it,” said Thompson. “That’s one thing I would like for them to know, that we definitely see you guys doing it and we appreciate it.”
Even though her family has not been able to come to all of the games, she still feels their support.
Head Coach Alex Lang has certainly noticed Thompson’s progress in a short amount of time.
“Tiffany is a tremendous person. She has really become a leader on this team and has elevated her game throughout the season. She is playing the best basketball of her career right now,” said Coach Lang. “I wish I’d have her for another season!”
Best influenced by WNBA players Candice Parker and Maya Moore, Thompson has been optimistic of the state of women’s basketball over the past decade.
“It’s definitely growing,” Thompson said. “I don’t feel like it is equal to men yet, especially with how they’re compensated and how much they get paid for being a professional but it’ll hopefully get there.”
After she graduates from BC, she wants to coach and aims to be a high school physical education teacher, possibly at her old high school. Her coaching style would derive from all she has learned from her past coaches. She feels she has a lot to offer.
“When it comes to basketball, I feel like I know a lot and I want to share that with other people,” said Thompson.