A WALK WITH A HAWK ...
Jan. 27, 2012
PRINCESS, Md. - The great Booker T. Washington once wrote, "Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed."
It's a phrase that University of Maryland Eastern Shore men's basketball shooting guard, Gregory Womack, knows all too well.
The story of Womack's life is quite unique. His journey has never been easy; one that exemplifies how a strong work ethic, love of the game and an undeniable faith can keep a childhood dream alive.
Womack, who is an avid fisherman and guitar player, began playing basketball at six-years old and was actively involved with YMCA recreational leagues as a youth. He enrolled at Edmond North High School his freshman year of high school and much like the great Michael Jordan, was cut from the team in the spring.
To improve his skills, he joined the U-17 Oklahoma Servants at the age of 14. His tenure with the Servants lasted three years and he faced many notable NBA stars along the way, including Blake Griffin, Xavier Henry and Daniel Orton.
During that three-year span, he was cut again three more times from Edmond North. Throw in a torn meniscus halfway through the middle of his junior year and a serious knee surgery to repair the damage, and one would think the end of the road was near.
Not for Greg Womack.
In fact, it was actually just the beginning.
"I knew that I had one more chance to make the team as a senior," said Womack. "I made a promise to myself to work harder than ever and let God take care of the rest. I was not going to give up; I knew that I owed it to myself to keep pushing. It's here where I developed my work ethic."
So what exactly would he do differently?
"After I got cut the last time, I told myself that I was going to make 15,000 jumpers in 12 days," said Womack. "I figured out the math and realized I needed to make 1,250 a day. I went after it for an entire week and would employ friends to rebound the balls for me. I can remember my arms being so sore and legs aching to the point where I had to take a few days off because I could hardly straighten my arms out."
His hard work would pay off, as he eventually made the team as a senior, but would see little playing time to begin the year.
"I was sitting on the bench until halfway through that year," said Womack. "We began the season by going 2-9 and the coach finally gave me a chance. I came off the bench in one game and scored 14 points. After that, I started every game and we went 9-2 the rest of the way. I averaged 16.5 points-per-game in those final 11 games."
Womack would go to prep schools in Denver, Col., and Dallas, Tex., following his graduation from Edmond North to improve his stock for college basketball. At the two schools, he averaged 18 and 25 points-per-game, respectively. Things were looking up again, but the trend of having to fight for his career would rear its ugly face once more.
The 6'5 guard would fall victim to an NCAA rule change that would not allow him to go to a Division I or II institution that year. The talks with many four-year schools would halt and a new plan had to be set up. It was here where he decided to play at Redlands Community College in El Reno, Okla.
At Redlands, his performance was masterful.
Womack led the nation in three-point percentage (65 percent) and was the second highest scorer on his team (14 points-per-game) in 2010. The scouts from Division 1 schools would come back and after countless prayers, he decided his calling was towards the William P. Hytche Athletic Center. In the spring of 2011, he signed with the Hawks.
"Through the struggles and successes I've had in my life, I find ultimate joy in my Savior, Jesus Christ, and will continue to put my faith in Him," offered Womack. "Basketball is only a small part of the picture, because in reality it's bigger than basketball, it's about making Jesus' name famous."
Fast forward to the present and the UMES men's basketball team is 17 games into their 2011-12 season. Womack has collected eight steals, nine assists and 21 rebounds. He has also drilled nine three-pointers for 46 points. Womack has played in all 17 of the Hawks' games this season and received the start at Lehigh on Jan. 3. He posted a season-high 12 points on a 4-for-6 three-point shooting performance against Bethune-Cookman.
However the rest of the season plays out for Womack and the men's team is anyone's guess really. Whatever the case may be, it can assured that the Oklahoma native will cherish every minute in his tenure with the Hawks. Aside from his faith and relentless work ethic, fans can learn a little bit about themselves when seeing someone like Womack suit up for the Hawks basketball team.
Believe in yourself.
"Whether it's holding bible studies, playing basketball, or just sharing my story, I was made to show God's glory," said Womack. "He brought me this far and I can't wait to see what He has planned next."
It goes without saying that the UMES athletic program is truly thankful to have someone as inspirational as Womack in our community.
His presence alone gives the underdog hope and the believer a dream.
This is the first segment in UMES' newest column, A Walk with a Hawk. Please follow along every week, as a different Hawk student-athlete will be spotlighted. We are proud to announce that women's basketball senior forward Adobi Agbasi will be next week's spotlight athlete.