After getting cut from high school team, 20-year-old now plays college basketball
Baileigh Sinaman-Daniel says Coach Robin Martin-Davis took a chance on her.
Baileigh Sinaman-Daniel knows what it feels like to get knocked down.
Three years ago, Sinaman-Daniel was cut from her high school basketball team's varsity roster during her senior year.
"I was a little upset about that for a couple of days," Sinaman-Daniel, now 20, recalled to "Good Morning America."
For some students, that could have been the end of their burgeoning basketball careers, but the Stafford, Virginia, native, who was born with one arm, didn't let anyone dictate the end of 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," the 20-year-old said. "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."
Sinaman-Daniel's efforts paid off: Robin Martin-Davis, an athletic director and head coach of Warren Wilson College's women's basketball team, took notice and invited Sinaman-Daniel 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," Martin-Davis recounted. "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."
Sinaman-Daniel said it was a mutual liking that led her to join the Warren Wilson Lady Owls the following year.
"I love just the overall environment that we've got. And I love the fact that they didn't hold me back from anything either," the college sophomore said. "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."
Today, Sinaman-Daniel, who is majoring in psychology, is not only a guard for the Division III team but is also a member of the liberal arts college's women's volleyball team.
Martin-Davis said although Sinaman-Daniel does have a few accommodations, she holds her to the same standard as her fellow student-athletes. At the end of the day, she said she wants to be the coach who gives a young, motivated player the chance to play and prove themselves.
"I wasn't going to give her accommodations unless they were necessary. I hold Baileigh to the same standard as everybody else," Martin-Davis said. "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."
Whether she's on or off the court, Martin-Davis said it's clear Sinaman-Daniel has a true love of and dedication to sports.
"Baileigh's energy, her smile is contagious, and it infuses great into the team," Martin-Davis said. "And then on the floor, she works really hard. She will never give up. She plays great defense and even though she gets frustrated at times, she does everything -- all the running, all the drills. She's right there with us."
Both Sinaman-Daniel and Martin-Davis said they hope others can see past challenges and find their own unique strengths.
"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," Martin-Davis said. "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].'"
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."