Hanif turns back the clock

Comeback sets tone for squad trying to find its identity


By Robert Clinton, Sports Editor

No matter what plan people may have for themselves, when life beckons, they all have to heed the call. Sometimes that call forces them to re-route their dreams, while still fulfilling their predetermined destiny.

For Comet sophomore guard Jameelah Hanif, the path leading to her eventual destination has been anything but a straight line. After playing for the most successful Comet team in history, and falling just shy of capturing a state championship in 2003, Hanif returns to Contra Costa College to achieve her degree and help the Comets return to dominance in the process.

“It’s always valuable when you have experience,” Comet women’s basketball coach Vince Shaw said. “She was a part of a great team here in 2002-03 for the Comets, so she’s been there and done that. That experience only helps the girls. Hanif doesn’t get too rattled, moments are not too big for her and she’s a calming influence on the girls.

“As long as we stay together, with her leadership, this team will continue to trend in the right direction.”

Born in Oakland in 1983, the forward and mother of one has consistently overcome disappointment, setbacks and uncertainty fueling her eventual success as a business owner, mother and inspiration to those who value hard work and perseverance.

Hanif rose from humble beginnings. Growing up in West Oakland, she remembers being introduced to basketball by her father who played in local tournaments and routinely brought his daughter to be a part of the action.

While attending Emery High School in Emeryville, she flourished as an athlete but chose to follow her teenage love to Santa Rosa Junior College in 2001.

However, her relationship dissolved and shortly after attending Santa Rosa, but not joining the basketball team, she returned to the Bay Area to play for then coach Paul DeBolt at CCC.

As a Comet, Hanif flourished on the hardwood. Her team won the Bay Valley Conference and dominated in the playoffs. However, CCC eventually lost to Orange Coast College in the State Championship Game.

“She’s grown up,” DeBolt said. “She has a very mature attitude toward what she’s doing. Not that she didn’t before, but she was 19. She’s a real leader now. You can tell that they’re looking to her for leadership — and she’s providing it.”

After achieving such a high level of success as a student-athlete, the pressures of life and adulthood began to dominate Hanif’s days.

As things fell into place on the court, for Hanif, her return from Santa Rosa offered a fresh set of obstacles.

Throughout the 02-03 Comets rise to success, Hanif was without stable housing and eventually found refuge with family in Vallejo.

“I was living with my aunt working at Jamba Juice full-time, going to school full-time and playing basketball,” Hanif said. “I had to stop going to school because there were bills to pay. I couldn’t play basketball any more and then I got pregnant.”

Hanif wanted to enter the nursing program at CCC and finish school as a parent, but she got an abortion.

However, the shift in circumstances was no match for Hanif’s will.

Without basketball, Hanif recalled other things in her life that brought her solace while living in poverty-stricken West Oakland.

“Coming from where I’m from there is a lot of drugs and poverty. There was a lack of mentors, so helping in an after school program was my outlet and a way to give back,” Hanif said. “I always felt like there were a lot of kids that were lost because they don’t have support.”

Years after leaving CCC and very much pregnant, Hanif attended Solano Community College during her maternity leave continuing her childhood development classes.

The path led to opening her own day care service in April 2013. After attending Solano, now under the tutelage of former CCC early childhood education department chairperson Intisar Shareef, she graduated from CCC with an associate degree in childhood development after completing her final class in 2016.

“It’s about finishing everything that I started. I want to complete everything,” Hanif said. “With basketball, I want to be an inspiration to my son.”

Hanif eventually hopes to grow her day care business into a larger child-care center. Upon completion of her current classes, she will qualify to have a center next November.

“Everything is falling into place,” she said.