Monique Salmon’s illustrious basketball career at Baruch College included being captain for two years, leading the NCAA Division III in assists for three consecutive years, on top of becoming CUNYAC tournament MVP in 2008 and 2009 and CUNYAC player of the year during the 2010-2011 season.
Now, after all of her accolades and championships at Baruch, Salmon is attempting to take her talents from Lexington to Kingston in her quest to become a member of the Jamaican national team.
Salmon’s road to a tryout with the Jamaican national team began at the age of nine in the Bronx, where she moved with her family from Jamaica.
Salmon strictly played soccer in Jamaica, but took to basketball instantly when she first discovered the game.
Salmon managed to develop a passion for the game at a young age, despite the fact that she did not even have a hoop for practice.
“I learned how to play basketball on a milk carton box tied to a gate,” said Salmon.
“A guy I knew from my neighborhood asked me if I wanted to learn and from there I never looked back.”
After learning how to play basketball in a most improbable way, Salmon continued honing her skills in unique fashion by competing strictly against boys from her area.
It was only when she entered 8th grade that Salmon began to play organized basketball against other girls.
Salmon’s determination from an early age to compete and play the game she loves has been evident throughout her basketball career.
She is also well aware that she will have to work harder than ever to accomplish her greatest feat yet and make the Jamaican national team.
“I need to be very prepared and work hard to get to where I want to be,” Salmon said.
“There aren’t any off days and if I want to be ready for the tryouts and camps, I will have to work my tail off.”
While Salmon’s hard work ethic and love of the game have gotten her far, there have been many people throughout Salmon’s career who have been just as instrumental in helping Salmon succeed.
One of those people is Baruch’s basketball coach Machli Joseph, who coached Salmon throughout her four years at Baruch.
“I think it’s great for her and I think it’s great for Baruch,” Joseph said.
“I think she has a great shot if she can stay as sharp as she was.”
Joseph, who has been Baruch’s women’s basketball coach since 2003, also realizes that Salmon’s opportunity will greatly enhance the recruiting ability of Baruch in the future.
He added, “It’s great a great recruiting tool, and it gives some inspiration to those who are playing for us as well.”
Salmon’s aspirations of joining her national team echoes those of Arki Wisnu. He played on the men’s basketball team between 2007 and 2011 before he started playing professionally in Indonesia.
Last season he won a championship with Satria Muda BritAma Jakarta. Salmon is hoping that she can achieve a similar feat.
However, when it came to realizing that she could actually play for her national team, Salmon needed a little push.
“John Neves, the Sports Information Director here at Baruch, kept telling me I can play for my national team since my senior year,” said Salmon.
“He kept saying, ‘I think you can do it. You need to look it up.’”
Although she was skeptical at first, upon further research Salmon came to realize that it was actually a possibility.
Salmon found a friend from Jamaica who is a member of the national team, and through that friend she was able to get a hold of the coach of the national team to arrange a tryout.
The opportunity to play collegiate sports at any level is the pinnacle of many careers. But for Salmon and a very select group of people like her who have had the opportunity to represent their home country, there is no higher achievement in the sports world.
“It would mean the world to me,” Salmon said. “To be able to play the sport I love in the country I was born in, would be amazing.”
Even though Salmon left Jamaica at the age of nine, most of her family members still reside there and have never been able to see her play.
For Salmon, it would be a dream come true to be able to represent her country and play the game that has shaped her life in front of her family.
“They have never seen me play live; only clips on YouTube,” Salmon said. For them to see me play in Jamaica would be something that I would never forget.”
In the meantime, Salmon will continue to stay sharp and wait for her tryout day to come. She believes that she will accomplish her goals through her hard work and dedication, and by staying true to her mantra “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”