Interview with Rebecca O’Keefe, outgoing captain of Trinity Lady’s Basketball champion team

Caoimhe Gordon catches up with the outgoing captain Rebecca O’Keefe as she reflects upon a year of great triumph achieved by the team


Last year marked a period of unbelievable achievement for Trinity Lady’s Basketball team. Not only was the talented team the champion of the Division 1 League as well as the Division ‘A’ Varsity winner, their achievements rendered the team the obvious recipient of Team of the Year award at DUCAC sports awards. Remaining undefeated throughout every match, never before had a Trinity women’s basketball team achieved such success in one season.

At the helm of this era of triumph was Rebecca O’Keefe, who featured as both the captain of the women’s basketball team and club president in her final year of studies in Trinity College. Rebecca, who has been playing basketball since the age of nine, describes her involvement in the game as inevitable: “My family are heavily involved in basketball; so much so that my mam was my coach and my dad coached my brother’s team when we were younger!” When Rebecca entered her first year as a TSM student of English Literature and Sociology, she then possessed years of carefully honed skills. Therefore it was no surprise that Rebecca became an active member of DU Basketball from the beginning. Not only was she an important player on the court, she also occasionally coached and acted as referee for matches. Rebecca was also involved in the committee side of DU Basketball. “I served on the committee as PRO, Club Captain and Club President so I am greatly invested in the club to put it mildly!” Rebecca explains.

Glancing back on the year that was, a year filled with one success after another, Rebecca firmly believes that her proudest moment was lifting the Division 1 League trophy. Describing it as a “great feeling”, Rebecca concludes that this victory definitely motivated the team to do the double and to triumph at the Division ‘A’ Varsities. Reflecting back on this time, Rebecca reveals: “I didn’t know if I’d ever get to a final at all, let alone win it. It also showed me how far we had come as a sports club and how we had gained a more serious respect- we would no longer be there to participate for the craic but to win.” The team’s many accomplishments were even more significant to Rebecca due to her incredible dedication to the club off the court: “When I was at my wit’s end arranging matches, ordering gear, or organising varsities, the accomplishments definitely made all that hard work worthwhile and there was no greater reward.”

As last year was Rebecca’s final year of study in Trinity College, she mourns the fact that she can’t have a “year of grace”. However, she remains confident that the team will continue to be fierce competitors during the coming year in her absence. Although it will be a completely different team due to the loss of many of the team to graduation and a change of coach, Rebecca explains that new members who have “excelled” in secondary school and clubs become essential players of the squad every year. She also notes that DU Basketball is lucky enough to welcome many Erasmus and exchange students into the fold, including many Victory Scholars from a programme called Sport Changes Lives. “Two years ago a programme called Sport Changes Lives organised American student-athletes to pursue Master’s degrees in colleges throughout Ireland in a range of different sports and we are privileged to receive such Victory Scholars for basketball. The Victory Scholars we have gotten have been very talented and this year will be of the same high standard.” clarifies Rebecca.

When asked about the difference in treatment between men and women’s sports teams in Trinity College, Rebecca remains positive that “talent in Trinity” is promoted be it male or female. She draws reference to the Sports Awards and with Pink recipients. Within DU Basketball, the team is amalgamated therefore the men and women’s teams share a budget and the funds are allocated within the teams. However, Rebecca does admit that Dublin University Central Athletic Club, although a beacon of support for college sport teams, struggles with cutbacks. As she comments herself, it is often “hard to fund every club equally.” However, she believes this usually occurs to specific needs of some sporting teams rather than a targeted gendered difference. Due to this, some teams may get more funding than others and Rebecca admits that this has caused the team to struggle at times. However this year, the team was assistance due to an outside sponsor. Rebecca affirms how beneficial it was for the team to possess such aid this year: “[Sponsorship] helped us out massively when it came to things like gear and tournament costs because in the past there have been occasions where we’ve had to borrow a ball from the opposition just so we can warm-up and we’ve had a pic-n-mix selection of team gear ever since I came to the club which of course does not reflect positively on the club.”

One issue Rebecca sees with the treatment of DU Basketball within Trinity College’s sporting circles is the lack of scholarships awarded to those who play basketball: “I have felt that basketball has been somewhat overlooked when it comes to scholarships because DU Basketball has seen many successful players nationally and internationally over the years that have not received any scholarships.” Shockingly, this year was the first year in which a basketball scholarship was awarded.

Overall, Rebecca remains enthused about the sport that has dominated her four years in Trinity College. When asked about any helpful advice she would bestow on potential players, Rebecca’s reply is, as expected, warm and earnest: “If you have any interest at all in basketball definitely join and certainly don’t be intimidated. The club caters to players who just want to play socially and scrimmage as well as those who play a little more intensely. Even if you don’t want to play, we have plenty of socialising and everyone in the club gets on so well with each other, there’s no nicer bunch!”