By Joseph Staszewski
For a second, Dominique Toussaint pondered taking a much different career path, one that might not have included a scholarship to play at Virginia, Miss New York State basketball honors and a spot in the Jordan Brand Classic.
The Christ the King senior, who lives in Staten Island, did not enter high school with much fanfare. She worked her way up to that elite level after choosing not to take an easier route following her sophomore year in Middle Village.
Royals coach Bob Mackey told her that she had to either raise the level of her game or transfer. Toussaint’s parents Kirstie and Richard agreed. They offered to keep her closer to home at Curtis instead if she wasn’t up to the challenge.
“They gave me an ultimatum: You either work your butt off and do well or you are out of there,” Toussaint said. “We are not going to waste our money, do two hours [commuting to school].”
She considered the alternative—briefly.
“There was a brief moment where I was like, ‘I’ll go to Curtis and do great there,’” Toussaint said. “I’ll score every single point, but again, you want to be successful and Christ the King was the best place for me to go for that and I just stuck with it.”
She did and reaped all the rewards.
Already a top-flight defender, Toussaint became a better shooter, a better passing point guard and the Royals’ leader during a breakout junior season in which the Royals reached the state Federation Class AA final for the first time since 2010. As a senior, she averaged 19.7 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game and was named the TimesLedger Newspapers All-Queens girls basketball player of the year.
“She was told, ‘If you are not going to step up and really do it, then don’t waste everybody’s time,’” Mackey said. “Boy did she. She had a great junior year and terrific senior year and I think it paid off and it shows.”
In order to make it all work, Toussaint had to leave her house every morning around 6:15 a.m, get driven to the Staten Island Ferry and then take three trains to arrive at Christ the King. Out of season she would be home around 4:30 p.m. During hoops season it could be three hours later than that.
“She doesn’t turn off,” Mackey said. “She is always on. She’s got a positive personality and always a positive outlook on things.”
All of that earned her the chance to play in the Jordan Brand Classic All-American game April 15 at Barclays Center, as well as earning an invite to try out for the U.S.A. U18 National Team on May 15 at Barclays Center. In the Jordan Brand Classic, Toussaint scored six points and grabbed seven rebounds. She added a highlight-reel play with a behind-the-head pass to Lindsey Corsaro for a bucket in the first quarter.
“I just made the funny play behind my head,” Toussaint said. “I’m glad that she caught it.”
She said she enjoyed every bit of the experience at the Jordan Brand Classic. It was a small preparation for college, where she will have to play with an entire team of elite players.
But what she has earned will never be as special for Toussaint as how she got there.
“Everything I do is hard work,” she said. “It’s more pride when you do it that way. You are not relying on anybody else. You know you did it yourself. When everybody asks me how I got here, I just tell them hard work and being focused on what you want to do.”