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Lab cheerleader trades pompoms for high-tops

Ashanti Plummer, a former cheerleader, will be joining Division I basketball program at Texas A&M. Photo courtesy Long Island Lightning Dingle
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Up until two years ago, if Ashanti Plummer was at a basketball game, it was in the stands or on the baseline waving pom-poms.

“I wanted to be a dancer and a cheerleader,” she said. “It’s so much better to be on the other side.”

With the encouragement of her mother DeShawn, Plummer traded in her cheerleading skirt for a pair of basketball shorts and quickly became a star at Lab Museum United.

This year, the 6-foot-2 senior helped lead the Gators to the PSAL Class A semifinals and Friday, to cap a remarkable three years, she committed to play Division I basketball at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

“I tried it and it was really hard,” Plummer said of basketball. “But the fact that it was the hardest thing for me is why I kept playing. Everything else seemed to come easy for me.”

Plummer, who also plays softball, is an excellent student and also artistic, was found by Corpus Christi in a fortuitous way. New Corpus Christi Coach Royce Chadwick and assistant Roxanne White had signed Plummer’s LMU and Long Island Lightning AAU teammate, Jenny Ramirez, when they were at Marshall. Chadwick and White knew Plummer and liked her — but they didn’t have a spot for a big girl.

“They came to my semifinals game and they were talking to me,” said Plummer, an Ozone Park native. “They both said, ‘You have the potential to play for a Division I school, keep working hard, you can do it.’”

One month ago, Chadwick left Marshall for Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and took White with him. The Islanders needed some size and the athletic Plummer was the first call the coaches made.

“Next thing you know, I’m committing to play for them,” she said. “It happened in the blink of an eye. I feel so happy and blessed.”

Plummer also considered Indiana State, LeMoyne and Monroe (Rochester). She knew she wanted to go down to Texas to play for Chadwick and White, though. She just had to visit Corpus Christi this weekend to meet the team and see if she liked it. Plummer didn’t just like it — she loved it.

“It’s beautiful,” she said. “The palm trees, the water. I love it there. I went to the beach today. When I first heard I was coming down, I was thinking farms and sweltering heat. Then when I came down here, it was like Florida.”

Plummer’s incredible journey from cheerleader to Division I basketball player wasn’t easy. It came after dedication and some help. Plummer credited New York Rockits Coach Kevin Low with teaching her the fundamentals and Lightning Dingle Coach Jaywana Bradley for taking her to the next level. LMU Coach Katie Jungers was diligent in finding her a college, talking to coaches, making sure her grades were in order and transcript met the necessary guidelines.

“That’s a good fit for her,” said one Division I assistant coach. “Her length and athleticism will help her really get that program going in the right direction.”

Plummer hopes so. And she doesn’t mind doing anything she has to in order to make an impact. As long as that doesn’t include pom-poms and a skirt.

“Whatever is necessary,” Plummer said. “I’ll do whatever the coaches tell me. If I have to play a role, I’ll play a role.”

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