Cavalier Corner

February 2022

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Page 20 of 35

FEBRUARY 2022 19 BY MELISSA DUDEK A nd from Paris, France, number 23, Amandine Toi!" While players and coaches, in- cluding a head coach, have come and gone from the women's basketball ros- ter over the past five years, Toi has remained a constant. The entry, however, only tells the middle part of her story. The fan-favorite Pa- risian guard isn't actually from Paris. Toi was born on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. "We lived with my aunt and cousins in Guadeloupe, and I went to preschool there," Toi said. "It was fun. I don't have strong memories of it, but I know that I loved to live there. And I still go there every summer if I can." The archipelago is a French territory, which enabled her mother, Jocelyne Toi, to move to the French capital with Amandine and her baby sister, Maeva Delabarthe, in 2002. "In the Caribbean, jobs and opportunities were low for women," Toi said. "My mom was always independent, and I think for her, she wanted to have a job and for her kids be in an environment where they had an opportu- nity to go to school and have a good job." They settled in the Parisian suburb of Tremblay-en-France, with Jocelyne finding work as a waitress. She then obtained an entry-level job with the French government, slowly and steadily working her way up to her current position as an assistant to the minister of education. She still lives in the same two-bedroom apartment as when she first moved the family to France, though her eldest daugh- ter hasn't lived there full-time in almost a decade. When Amandine was 13 years old, Joc- elyne decided to put her in basketball, feel- ing that the teenager needed something to keep her occupied and away from negative influences. Thirteen was a late start, but Amandine found herself on the basketball fast track before she even knew how to play the game. "I was with a bunch of girls who were already mature at playing basketball, and I sucked and was terrible," Toi said with a laugh. "But a trainer came to the gym and saw me, and he was like, 'Who is that girl who is tall and athletic? I need to train her.' "At first, I was not taking it seriously. But I had to start taking it seriously when I started basketball with him because it was AMERICAN DREAM By Excelling At UVA, Amandine Toi Has Fulfilled One Of Her Foremost Basketball Ambitions Through Virginia's first 14 games this season, Toi was leading the team in scoring with an average of 13.1 points per game. (Photo by Matt Riley/courtesy UVA) "

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