Proximity, familiarity led ex-BHS star to CLC
Brainerd native Jalynn Lamb has had a basketball in her hands since she could walk. She used that love and knowledge of the game to become a key player for the Central Lakes College Raiders.
Lamb comes from a long line of athletes. Her mom, Joni, was an All-American player in high school and played at Buena Vista University in Iowa. Her dad, Denny, was a coach.
“All my relatives played,” said Lamb. “If I didn’t play everyone would have been shocked. My parents have never tried to coach or push me, but they were always there with advice and support.”
Lamb spent most of her youth participating in sports programs such as the Brainerd Youth Athletics Association. She started honing her skills as a sixth-grader at Washington Middle School.
In high school, Lamb was a multi-sport athlete, participating in volleyball, softball, track and field, and basketball, but in her heart, basketball was always No. 1.
“Basketball is my thing,” she said. “It’s in my blood. It’s all I ever knew, all I ever wanted to do.”
As high school graduation approached, it was time for her to make a decision about college and there was only one thing Lamb knew for sure — she wanted her family close.
“I got nervous about being away from my family,” she said. “I wanted to stay close to home and my family. My parents never miss a game. If I went far away it would be harder.”
Lamb looked at several colleges but in the end, the closeness to home, and the familiarity of CLC, helped her make her decision.
“I went through basketball camp in seventh grade and volleyball camps during high school so I was familiar with the CLC sports program,” said Lamb.
Raiders coach Dennis Eastman watched Lamb play several times while she was in high school and couldn’t have been happier when he heard the news that Lamb had chosen CLC.
“Originally, I thought she was going to Iowa and luckily I heard that she wanted to come here,” Eastman said. “She came here during the summer for our college league and I got to know her more and more and that’s when I noticed she had some really unique skills. Her quick shot, she was very accurate with it.”
Familiarity aside, Lamb still had plenty of adjustments to make the transition from a high school to a college athlete. From the shot clock and court length, to the more even matching of women her height, Lamb has taken it all in stride, arising as a force for the Raiders.
“From my sixth grade year to my senior year, there was a group of six girls who all played together so it was different playing with different people in college,” said Lamb. “It took me quite a bit to adjust to since I only played with the same people for so many years.
“And, in high school I was always playing girls who were smaller than me. Now, there are more girls my size so it takes more physical energy to keep up with them and not be intimidated.”
Said Eastman of Lamb’s adjustment, “A lot of freshmen aren’t used to the speed of the game. I give them options and that’s hard for them because in high school they were told what to do. She’s adjusted well. ”
The added challenges of playing college ball have not intimidated the center, who averaged 17 points per game.
With a bigger gym and bigger crowds come the need for greater focus and concentration. Like everything else, Lamb has taken it in stride.
“Some games I still get nervous, but it comes naturally after playing for so long,” she said. “When I’m playing, I block out all the music and noises, though. I can hear my dad and I can hear coach and nothing else. I learned to stay focused on the game.”
One thing that will never change is Lamb’s pre-game rituals.
“I say a prayer during the national anthem every game and I keep a penny in my shoe when I play in honor of my grandpa,” she said. “I can feel it in my shoe and it’s a reminder that he’s watching over me.”
Lamb plans to obtain her associate in arts degree from CLC, then transfer to a four-year college to pursue a career in massage therapy.
Eastman said Lamb has improved and matured since the season began.
“We’re looking forward to big things from her next year,” he said.