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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Beau Shay- Chasing Two Dreams

This story appeared in the Greenville News (Greenville, SC) on February 23, 2004. It was written as a tribute to one of two seniors on the Clemson basketball team before Clemson's last home game that year. It is the story of a high school player who had two dreams growing up- to play basketball in the ACC and to become a doctor.
When Beau Shay left Galesburg HS to be an unrecruited walk-on at Clemson, many envisioned either he would not make it on the team or that he would just be a glorified manager. As you read this article, you realize that Beau went from walk-on to senior leader who was willing to step up and take charge of his team.
I will have a Q & A with Beau coming up later- read this first to understand how impressive Beau is. 
Walk-on plays basketball, aspires to become a doctor
By Adam Davis
CLEMSON -- The poet Langston Hughes once posed the question, "What happens to a dream deferred?"
The question speaks to a human failing, that too often we push dreams aside, saving them for another day. The question also suggests admiration for those who never have to answer it, such as Clemson University senior Beau Shay. While many find a single dream to be elusive, Shay is chasing two dreams at once.
Shay lives one dream every day, as a walk-on point guard. Shay is the shortest player on the team at 5-foot-10, and probably the slowest. But he also may be the most dedicated, giving everything to his labor of love.
On March 8, Shay has an appointment with his other dream. Since the third grade, Shay has wanted to be a doctor, to be the man who breathed life into both of his grandfathers. On that date Shay, a biological sciences major, will interview with Southern Illinois University, where he has applied to medical school.
The continuity offered by the date is perfect. As Shay's basketball dream fades, he can immerse himself in the second dream, the one that he hopes will define his life.
"I find it inspirational," Clemson coach Oliver Purnell said.
Portia Cohens, a senior biology major from Georgetown, said studying and applying to medical schools is "a big time commitment."
"It would be very hard to manage with sports, but he did it," said Cohens, who plans to attend the Medical University of South Carolina. "It takes somebody who really, really wants it to go through all of that, because it's a lot of work."
Ask Shay how many of his friends have kept the same major through four years, and he smiles. One, maybe. Shay, meanwhile, has had the same major since he was 9 years old.
"I'm stubborn," he said.
Shay is not sure how his fascination with medicine began, but he knows it started early.
"Every time we used to go to the hospital, I used to get rubber gloves and put them on when we got home," said Shay, a native of Galesburg, Ill.
As Shay became more serious about medicine, he drew inspiration from his grandfathers. Earl Shay had two heart attacks, about a year apart. After triple-bypass surgery, he lived for another six or seven years, Beau Shay said.
Shay's other grandfather, Bill Hudgel, had a major stroke, and he, too, survived. With the help of doctors, he lived for another four or five years.
"The opportunity to make somebody feel the way we did, when they were able to save my grandpa's life -- I want to be able to help people like that," Shay said.
Eventually, while Shay clutched that dream in one hand, he reached out with the other one. Shay came from an athletic family, in which his father and two older brothers were Division I athletes. Shay was an all-state football quarterback, but his first love was basketball, and he dreamed of playing in the ACC.
Shay said he "fell in love" with Clemson, so here he came, without a scholarship or a promise. Shay made the team, and for four years he has been a valuable practice player. Shay has never had a major role in games, but he is satisfied with his experience.
"The way I look at it is, I get to play ACC basketball every single day," Shay said. "No, it's not when the cameras and the reporters and everything are here, but I get to play against guys that play in the ACC every single day, and I cherish that opportunity."
He also takes it seriously. At a recent practice, Shay missed an open 3-pointer and reacted with disgust, as if he had missed a last-second shot. For Shay, practice is his game.
During games, Shay helps in a different way. Having learned the opposing team's offense in practice, Shay helps to direct defensive traffic. He is first off the bench to greet a player leaving the game.
And Shay is more than a cheerleader. After South Carolina whipped Clemson in December, Shay gave an angry speech during a team meeting, in which he challenged several players, said junior forward Olu Babalola.
"Without him on the team, my job would be 10 times harder, being the team leader," senior captain Chris Hobbs said.
"He speaks forcefully and positively," Purnell said, "and that's what you want out of a senior."
Last summer, Shay learned he would take these experiences along on his next journey. Shay volunteered in the emergency room at Oconee Memorial Hospital, and he was struck by how much teamwork took place. Shay noted the correlation on medical school applications, explaining that he knows, through basketball, what it means to be a good teammate.
Shay, who carries a 3.2 grade-point average, has applied to eight medical schools. So far, he has three rejection letters and the interview with SIU.
Shay's teammates say he would be a great basketball coach, and Shay said he has given it some thought. But even if he fails to get into medical school this year, he promises to keep trying. Shay is going to be a heart surgeon, so he can save somebody's grandfather.
"I'm going to get in, eventually," Shay said, forcefully.
It is that kind of determination that has brought Shay to this point, forcing him to stay on task when his body and mind were fatigued. And it is that kind of determination that lends another Langston Hughes line to Shay's future.
"We have tomorrow; Bright before us; like a flame."

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