Student's long game pays off
Sports commentators called the game an instant classic — Kansas and Oklahoma, Big 12 basketball powerhouses, battling it out into triple overtime last January.
Both sides had talent and teamwork, but as Donte´ Walters watched from his seat in Allen Fieldhouse, he decided the Jayhawk victory came down to one thing: endurance.
Endurance is something Walters knows all about. In seventh grade, he was accepted into the rigorous Kauffman Scholars program, which helps students in urban Kansas City prepare for and complete college.
While most of his peers were playing video games, Walters was attending daily after-school tutoring sessions at a local community college. While his friends were just hanging out, he was participating in career coaching sessions or weekend service projects.
Walters jokes that he lost his childhood in pursuit of higher education. But, he says, quoting basketball pro Kevin Durant, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”
With hard work and the support of KU programs like Hawk Link and TRIO, which assist underrepresented and under-resourced students, Walters completed his first year at KU with a GPA to be proud of.
“College can be overwhelming,” he says, “You’ve got a lot of time on your hands, so you’ve got to have good time management and keep up.”
Now the sports management major is setting new goals, like landing a part-time job with KU Athletics or the Kansas City Chiefs. After graduation, he wants to return to Wyandotte County in an athletic leadership role and, eventually, to work for a pro team like his beloved Los Angeles Lakers.
But for now, Donte´ Walters puts in the time – even when it means going into overtime.