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CHS grad Donnelly chasing a dream
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Shannon Donnelly is chasing a dream.

"My ultimate goal is to play in the WNBA," she said. "Hopefully, by playing in all of these different leagues and overseas, I'll get seen by the right person and get a tryout."

Donnelly, 22, has appeared in uniform for two professional teams in two different countries since graduating from college in June of 2003. The 6-foot-1 center/power forward re-signed with Ullern, a club in Oslo, Norway, on Tuesday, Aug. 10.

"I just got a phone call today saying it was a done deal," said Donnelly, who will board a plane in San Francisco and fly to Norway the first week of September. "I'm very excited to go back. Everyone over there is so respectful and so nice."

Donnelly had a busy and productive summer.

She worked for Casey Moving & Storage. She packed, lifted and carried boxes five days a week for the Ceres business.

"I worked 10-to-12-hour days," Donnelly said.

"I didn't have to lift (weights) after work."

Donnelly also played in pickup games twice a week at a Mormon church in Turlock.

"That's how I stayed in shape," she said.

Donnelly led Ullern to a second-place finish at the Norwegian Basketball Association Championships in 2003-2004. She averaged 36.3 points, 15 rebounds and 2.5 steals in 12 games. Donnelly shot 63 percent from the field and 75 percent from the free-throw line.

"This year, we'll be a lot better," she said.

Donnelly made her first venture overseas to play for BC Mess in Luxembourg, Europe in August 2003.

She signed a 10-month contract but was released after just three weeks despite leading the team to three victories.

Donnelly scored 90 points in three games. She had 40 points, 17 rebounds and seven steals in her first game and scored 25 points in each of her last two games.

"I think everything happens for a reason," Donnelly said. "If I still played there, I wouldn't have played in Norway. Playing in Norway was a great experience. I have so many friends over there. I'm glad they released me. It's for the best."

Donnelly was a three-time All-American and four-time All-Region player at Stanislaus.

She averaged 20.4 points and 11.5 rebounds per game and led the Warriors into the NCAA Division II Tournament for the first time in 12 years in 2002-2003.

Against Cal State Bakersfield in the first round of the regional tournament, Donnelly scored 36 points and pulled down 15 rebounds in the team's overtime loss. She nailed a three-pointer--her only one of the year--at the buzzer to send the game into the extra period.

In four seasons, Donnelly averaged 19.9 points and 11.3 rebounds per game and shot 52.7 percent from the field. She holds nearly every offensive record in the Stanislaus record book, including points in a game (42), season (612) and career (2,088). Her single-season averages of 21.9 points (2002-2003) and 12.8 rebounds (1999-2000) are also school records.

Donnelly was the first Stanislaus basketball player, male or female, to surpass the 2,000-point mark. Her No. 35 jersey was retired and put on display in the Warrior Arena in December.

"It was a great honor to have my number retired," Donnelly said.

"I don't think it has hit me yet because it happened so fast."

Donnelly also had a memorable career at Ceres High, where she was a member of the varsity girls basketball team for three years. She won the league MVP award twice.

When Donnelly returns home from Norway in April, she'll join the Women's Spring Professional Basketball League. The semi-pro league features 10 teams and games are played in the Los Angeles area.

Donnelly scored 27 points in an exhibition game for the Santa Clarita Hornets on Sunday, Aug. 1.

"It's good exposure too because they (WSBL officials and coaches) know a lot of people in the WNBA business," she said.

If Donnelly makes it to the WNBA, she'll have to play a different position (small forward). She's too small to play center and/or power forward at the next level.

"I worked on my outside game more this summer," she said. "I worked on my defense, guarding quicker people, and my three. Hopefully I'll be ready for it by the time the WNBA comes around.

"I wouldn't be a star or anything like that. But I know that I could compete with them."

Donnelly wants to play basketball for at least five more years.

"That's what I do," said Donnelly, who was introduced to the sport in the sixth grade. "That's what I love. I don't want to give it up. I want to play for as long as I can.

"I have a great time every time I'm on the court."

Donnelly plans to teach and coach after she retires from basketball.

"I want to teach troubled kids," said Donnelly, who obtained a bachelor's degree in physical education from Stanislaus. "I think I'm a pretty good motivator."

Donnelly developed into one of the greatest players in Ceres High and Stanislaus' history because she was dedicated and determined. She refused to quit.

"I got cut in junior high," she said. - By DALE BUTLER / Staff Reporter of The Ceres (Calif.) Courier