Brenda VanLengen

Danielle Robinson’s stats just a small part of her contribution to her university

by Brenda VanLengen February 07, 2011 in Women's Basketball

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Danielle Robinson exudes joy.  Whether she is delivering Meals on Wheels to seniors in and around Norman, Oklahoma, finishing an exciting play through the lane on the basketball court or ministering to orphans in Haiti, Danielle flashes that effervescent smile and invites those around her to feel her passion and joy for life.

She gives much of the credit to her mom. “My mom is my best friend and I trust her word.  She’s a great woman of faith and she has inspired me.  I want to represent for my family in the best way possible.”

When Danielle was in high school, she went on her first mission trip.  It was a two-week trip to South Africa.  When many teenagers are only focused on their sport or their friends, Danielle was traveling across the world to help people not as fortunate as her.

After choosing to attend Oklahoma, she quickly jumped into the community service projects the team is encouraged to take part in. 

“It’s all about building relationships and giving back,” says Danielle.  “The communities we help are supportive of us.  The littlest thing that we can do is spend time with them.”

Imagine being a senior citizen living in the Norman community and having a young woman with the biggest smile and biggest heart arriving at your doorstep and providing not only meals for the weekend, but sincere friendship and joy. 

The children in the Abbott House for abused children and the young patients at the children’s hospital must feel the same way.  Danielle understands the gifts she’s been given and gladly gives back to those around her.

The trip to Haiti this past summer was especially meaningful to Danielle.  She led members of her team in working with an earthquake-damaged school and orphanage – they played basketball with the young children, but also did the heavy work of unloading medical supplies and helping build a guesthouse. 

“As much as we gave them – the smiles – they put just as many smiles on our faces.  I’ll never forget holding the twins in Haiti.  They were underweight and real sick.  I think about them all the time.”

The relationships Danielle builds motivates her. 

“I’m excited whenever we do community service; it’s something else outside of basketball – we’re able to minister through basketball.”

Danielle happens to be pretty good on the basketball court, too. Regarded by many as the top point guard in the country this season, Danielle’s credentials back it up.  Her first year at Oklahoma, she earned Big 12 Freshman of the Year.  Each year since, she has been recognized as All Big 12 Conference first team selection while guiding her team to back-to-back Women’s Final Four appearances.  As a junior, she was also recognized as a member of the State Farm All-American first team and is a finalist for all of the national player-of-the year awards this season.

It wasn’t only her skills, though, that helped lead Oklahoma to their consecutive Final Fours.  It was also her character and leadership.  After Oklahoma graduated the Big 12 Conference all-time leading scorer, rebounder and shot-blocker, Courtney Paris, and her twin sister Ashley in 2009, the leadership and scoring burden fell to Danielle and her sharp-shooting teammate, Whitney Hand.  But, in the fifth game of the year, Whitney crumpled to the court in an early season tournament and tore her ACL. 

The consummate leader, Danielle immediately realized her teammates needed her.  She remembers thinking, “I can’t freak out.  Everyone feeds off my emotion and passion. When she went down, I said to my team ‘We’re going to be okay.’  I knew that it had to start with me but that Whitney would be by my side.  Her ability to see things off the court helped me be a better leader on the court.  She was able to transfer things to me and I transferred to the team.”  The result was a remarkable return for Oklahoma to the 2010 Women’s Final Four.

In this, her senior season, Danielle has the challenge of leading a new team, mentoring talented new freshmen and leading the incorporation of Whitney Hand back into the line-up.  Under Danielle’s leadership, Oklahoma is currently ranted #13 in the nation and no one would be surprised if they’re back in the mix again for another trip to the Final Four.  She leads her team, and is in the top five in one of the top conferences, in scoring, assists and steals. But everyone who knows her would say that her giving heart and her smile are greater than all her stats.