By Thomas Burke
Special to The Sun
Jessalyn Deveny likes Notre Dame. That's understandable. In her youth the Westford girl often traveled to South Bend for national and international baton competitions. At age 11, she finished third in the world in a routine that featured dual batons.
But one spot on that basketball floor brings back bitter memories. In one of her baton tournaments, she lost a shoe in the middle of a performance, an embarrassing error. About a decade later, in the same spot, she ruptured an Achilles tendon and ended her Boston College basketball career.
That injury was midway through her senior season, when she was on track for All-America honors and averaging 27.2 points per game. Though she rehabbed and played pro ball briefly after that, it was never the same for the former Westford Academy superstar.
Boston College didn't forget her, though. Jess and seven other athletes were inducted into the BC Varsity Club Hall of Fame at a ceremony on campus last weekend, and were introduced at halftime of the BC-Army football game.
"Everything happens for a reason, and I was not destined to follow a path to the WNBA," says Deveny (Class of 2005).
She returned to school for a master's degree in social work and launched her career in special education. She's now a staff psychologist in the Lowell system.
Deveny was a member of the first Boston College class to make it to the NCAA basketball tournament in all of their four years.
At Westford Academy, Deveny was USA Today's Massachusetts Player of the Year in 2001. Just before she enrolled at BC, her AAU team won the national title at DisneyWorld.
With the Eagles, Deveny got into the lineup early but she needed work. The career-changer came in a meeting with Inglese. It was in a hotel room shortly before a game against UConn. Inglese looked her in the eye and told her that she was a detriment to the team because of her defense. After a tearful meeting with her parents, Deveny went out and became a complete player.
"That was coach's way of telling me to step it up," said Jess. "She demanded a lot in making us all play up to our potential. She knew what our thresholds were, what our bodies could take, and she never let us get so mentally drained that we couldn't perform."
At 5-9, Deveny played either shooting guard or small forward. After making the Big East All-Tournament Team as a freshman, she scored 16. 9 points per game as a sophomore and was named the Big East's Most Improved Player. BC finished 22-9 and made it to the third round of the NCAAs before losing to UConn. That year also saw her career high of 36 points in a game at Providence.
In her junior year, the Eagles' 22-7 record included a Big East championship in Hartford where BC knocked off UConn then blasted Rutgers in the final. Deveny was named Outstanding Player of the tournament. "There was nothing like cutting down the net in UConn territory," she says.
Senior year started off well even though she'd had persistent soreness in her Achilles tendon. The team was 15-3 when they faced Notre Dame in South Bend. Just after entering the game, Deveny dribbled down the court and keeled over. No defender was nearby. The Achilles just ruptured. Season over.
Surgery quickly followed and Deveny played two months in Iceland and another four in the resort town of Burhaniye, Turkey, making her league all-star team despite battling injuries. An unsuccessful tryout at the 2006 WNBA free agent camp ended her basketball career.
Deveny met her spouse, Mandy McNamara, a former Merrimack College basketball player, in 2001. Their daughter Zoe is one year old.