Former Hahnville star Chatman never forgets where she came from

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 1, 2005


Sports Editor

BATON ROUGE-Pokey Chatman definitely does not forget where she came from.

The Head Coach of perhaps one of the best women’s basketball programs in the country, the former Hahnville High School Tiger legend stays in constant contact and considers the River Region home.

“First of all I am from Ama, Louisiana and that is a very big thing,” Chatman said. “I get so excited when I say Ama and people don’t mistake it for Amite. About five years ago I would tell people I was from Ama and they would say ‘Oh, Amite.’ We don’t have a traffic light and we are really small.

“But I think that it is just one of those things, coming from a small town just helps you handle what I have been able to accomplish even better. It leaves you very grounded and allows you to take the good with the bad.”

One of the most athletic players, boy or girl, to ever come out of the area, Chatman said she enjoyed playing all sports, but one in particular.

“Basketball was always my first and only love,” Chatman said. “I participated in other sports because basketball season ended and I did okay. I played softball, and volleyball and they were fun, but it was just to get to basketball season.

“Then when I started playing AAU basketball a decision had to be made in terms of okay, what is going to pay the bills on the next level? You had to make a total commitment to it and see how far it would take you.”

While every basketball player is confident in their ability, Chatman recognized from an early age that she had the chance to turn her talents into a college scholarship.

“Realistically I would say when we were out in Washington at an AAU tournament,” Chatman said. “I think I was about 14 years old. I think that was the first time that I noticed the stands filled with college coaches. It is nothing like it is today, but it was close.”

Chatman remembers fondly her days in Boutte starring for the Hahnville Tigers.

“Wow,” Chatman recalled. “The thing that I think I remember the most was the growing fan following because so many of us played Biddy Basketball together since we were 9-10 years old. It was nice to have the core group of kids go from junior high to high school together. I can remember the girl’s high school basketball games being a big deal.

“I guess I didn’t realize it then because you are just a part of it. When I step back now and hear people talk about it, it was a really big deal. High school girls basketball games when we played were like high school football games at Hahnville.”

With several colleges calling following her senior season, Chatman said the decision on where to take her talents was very tough.

“It was definitely LSU at first,” Chatman said. “I think it was just so very different from early on when you first get the letters and are entertained with the schools that you are familiar with, because you get letters from then and they are occasionally on television. Sometimes when you come from a small town, you think the grass is greener.

“For me, I visited Louisiana Tech and I visited LSU. I think I knew when (then LSU Head Coach) Sue Gunter walked in my home because it was the most important decision related to basketball in my life. I didn’t want to just make an emotional decision and I didn’t think it was one.”

While many would let the success that Chatman has had perhaps go to their head, the Lady Tigers Head Coach said she will never forget where she came from and still considers herself just one of the girls.

“I don’t really feel like I am having to try and stay in touch,” Chatman said. “Simply because it is home. As long as I have family there and people there I never feel like I have to try and keep and touch. The reason is so many people and so much of my family is there anyway.

“Something special is always going on at Hahnville. I think I am even going to try and make it work out where I can be apart of their big football weekend against East St. John. It just feels natural, those are things that you naturally just leave space for. At least for me.”