At Rochester, Jamie Boeheim feels immune to the pressure her last name carries

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first_img Published on March 3, 2019 at 11:12 pm Contact Matthew: [email protected] | @MatthewGut21 ROCHESTER — Jamie Boeheim found comfort standing in the gym where her father’s coaching career almost began. Back in 1976, he walked into the Louis Alexander Palestra and almost became the head men’s basketball coach at the University of Rochester. Instead, Boeheim signed a contract with his alma mater, where he’s been for four decades, winning a national title and leading the Orange to five Final Fours. But in the Palestra this year, Jamie was sitting in the stands, considering how different her father’s life could have been had he signed with Rochester.Her family said Jamie’s probably more naturally gifted than her brothers, Buddy and Jimmy. Yet she said she’s never felt pressure related to her last name, never caught up in the idea of what she’s supposed to do with her life — or how a person raised by a man with mythic success is supposed to act.Last fall, she joined the Rochester women’s basketball team, and completed her first season last weekend, averaging 4.7 points per game in 21 games with no starts.Todd Michalek | Staff PhotographerAdvertisementThis is placeholder textWhile Buddy plays for his dad and Jimmy plays down Interstate 81 at Cornell, Jamie quietly committed to Rochester, a Division III program about 90 minutes west of SU. Her coach, UR head coach Jim Scheible, said she projects as a future starter in the backcourt. “We feel like we’re developing someone who can really be a cornerstone player for us,” he said. At 6-foot-1, she’s learning to block shots, develop post moves and shoot from beyond 10-to-15 feet. Her brother, Buddy, said she’s improved most in her finishing around the rim.Jamie didn’t want to attend Syracuse because “too much of my family is there,” she said. She hasn’t always been the star on her teams and doesn’t feel as if she’s living in her father’s shadow. She wants to set on her own path.“She’s really happy here,” her mother, Juli Boeheim, said. “She’ll work out this summer and figure out, ‘Are you happy being just OK? Or do you want to be really good?’ If you want to be really good, you have to work. She’s had great success without much work. She’ll have time to make that decision.”Susie Teuscher | Digital Design EditorWhen she arrived at Rochester, Jamie was worried about what people would think of her, and what preconceived notions they’d have. When her father comes to see her play, heads turn and people stare. “Would people talk to me just because I was Jim Boeheim’s daughter?” Jamie said. “They do say stuff, they make jokes, I play along with them. But I say listen, I’m normal, we’re normal. He’s not some huge idol. He’s chill. He’s a normal guy.”Her parents provide encouragement without being overbearing, she said. Her father doesn’t tell her what she should or shouldn’t do on the court. After games, he just asks how she felt she played. He keeps his post-game feedback to a minimum, offering a few pointers.Jamie began playing basketball in second grade, later than both of her brothers. “She’s a really good player,” Boeheim said. “She’s close to being a Division I player. Rochester plays at a high level. They have a very good coach. She’ll like it there and be a good player there. She always knew how to play. She didn’t do a lot of extra work because she’s very social. But she has just kept getting better.”Jamie said she never asked her father to put in a good word at Division I programs. She talks about the influence of her father, but she doesn’t mention that her father is a Hall of Fame coach. While she’s closest to her mother, Jamie said her father encourages her to remain focused on her academic and athletic path. They text often. He tells her to “chase her heart” and not to worry about outside noise. “A lot of people hate me,” Boeheim’s told her. “People who live here hate me. It happens. Not everyone will like me, it’s just how it is.”Alexandra Moreo | Senior Staff PhotographerIn June 2017, Schieble spotted Jamie at an AAU game in Albany. He said she could play Division II or I, but she’d fit well for UR. He wrote her a letter in the mail, they set up a campus visit and soon Jamie thought about extending her basketball career past Jamesville-DeWitt High School. When Scheible asked Jim what he thought on their family campus tour, he said: “I’m sold.”Jamie sat on her college decision. She considered Penn State and Villanova as a non-athlete. But after a high school game sometime around Christmas 2017, Jamie said she came to a realization: She loved basketball and couldn’t give it up.“Before coach reached out to me, I had no idea what I wanted to do,” Jamie said. “I didn’t even know if I had a set school or even play basketball. I didn’t have that many looks.”A year and a half ago, Jamie called Scheible: “I don’t know why it’s taking me so long, but Rochester is where I want to be.”Jamie remembers Sunday family game nights at home, playing Life, Clue or Candy Land. Her family calls her “Sissy.” She said she takes after her mother’s enthusiasm, affection and “super outgoing” nature. Her competitiveness and drive comes from her dad, because she knows “he’s always been that way. We have that fire in us,” she said. Still, she hasn’t given much thought to her last name, legacy, or how she compares to her brothers and father. “Maybe by the time I’m a senior, if I’ve done anything memorable, I’ll think about that,” Jamie said. 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