Playing basketball for the Cougars gave two athletes more than just the advantage of being teammates. Even through an injury, these friends have developed a companionship that allows them to further succeed in their athletic careers.
Junior forward Micah Jones and sophomore guard Donshel Beck became friends during Beck’s inaugural season with the Cougars. Beck said at the time Jones already had a year of collegiate play under her belt.
Jones is redshirting this year as a result of an injury earlier in the season. She tore both her ACL and meniscus during one of the Cougars’ exhibition games.
Jones said she did not expect the injury, particularly during the preseason.
“I was enjoying life, doing what I love. It was an exhibition game. Nothing can happen in an exhibition game,” Jones said. “[I went in for] a rebound, came down — I thought the girl’s knee hit my knee. Turns out she wasn’t even near me; it was all me. I jerked wrong and went down.”
Beck said she came to play for SIUE just a year behind Jones.
“She’s older than me. I was coming in as a freshman when she was a sophomore,” Beck said.
Jones said the two started spending time with each other because Beck would ride with her to practices.
“She used me for rides,” Jones joked.
The friendship between the two is unlikely, according to Jones, because of the two athletes’ widely differing interests.
“If you actually see us outside, me and [Beck] are basically like yin and yang. She’s city; I’m country. We are complete opposites,” Jones said.
Beck said the two may not have ever spoken to each other if it were not for playing basketball together.
“I don’t think we would have ever been friends,” Beck said.
The camaraderie between Beck and Jones serves the two athletes well, though. Beck said it is beneficial for them to have each other as confidantes.
“When something’s not going good, we can definitely talk to each other about what’s bothering us. I know she’ll tell me really how it’s going to be. It’s nice to have someone who you can always call and just sit down, go eat [and] have fun,” Beck said.
Jones’ extra year of experience has allowed her to mentor her friend. Beck said Jones always takes a moment before games to help her focus on the upcoming event.
“Before every game, we have a one-on-one talk. It could be a quick five seconds, but [Jones] just becomes really serious, not a smile on her face, and just says ‘Donny, get out there and play,’” Beck said.
Although Jones’ injury and the subsequent nine-month recovery period sets her back a year, Beck said this puts the two friends on track to finish their basketball careers as a pair.
“Since she is redshirting, it put her back a year in basketball. So we’re both sophomores in basketball. We’re going to end together,” Beck said.
A fond memory from last year’s season, according to Jones, was the pair’s card games before the teams started competing.
“We used to play cards before every game last year on road trips,” Jones said. “We would play Phase 10 and Uno. It would get intense. [Beck] cheats a lot,” Jones said.
Beck said making friends with Jones through basketball was an influential experience and she and Jones were brought together through the sport.
“It changes your outlook on people, on meeting other people. Like, ‘Wow, we are really friends now.’ We probably wouldn’t have even talked to each other if we wouldn’t have had basketball,” Beck said.