Basketball: UHH student-coach assistant inspires with strength, spirit

  • Reve Tomlin is a UHH sophomore, student-assistant coach for the basketball team and a cancer survivor.

The UH-Hilo women’s basketball team doesn’t need to look far for a source of inspiration because Reve Tomlin is not only that but has that unique personality to make everyone feel better after talking to her.

Tomlin is a student-assistant coach and a cancer survivor who’ll be recognized along with UHH professor Cheryl Ramos during the team’s cancer awareness day against Academy of Art at 5 p.m. Friday at Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium.

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Tomlin is from Loletta, Calif., not far from San Francisco, and as a high school senior in 2016 was diagnosed with lymphoma. She went for a routine physical for her last year of basketball. She then spent months undergoing chemotherapy treatments.

True to her upbeat personality, Tomlin followed the motto of Eric Berry, the Kansas City Chief, who was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2014, came back in 2015 and was named to the Pro Bowl: Fear nothing. Attack everything.

Tomlin didn’t just use that to battle just cancer but took that as her guiding light for life as well.

“The biggest thing was when I found out I saw my parents (Matt and Oriana) cry. I never cried. The reason was I knew how strong a person I needed to be. My mentality was to get on the next part of my life.

“I found out the day before my last game on January 12, 2017, that I was cancer free. It was a nice feeling. When I got diagnosed, I followed Eric Berry’s message: Fear nothing. Attack everything. It still is. That quote is about life in general for anybody going through anything. You can get through it.”

In 2017, Tomlin’s dad contacted UHH coach David Kaneshiro about Reve walking on. She came to Hilo to study marine biology, couldn’t get medical clearance and spent her freshman year watching Vulcan games.

Kaneshiro asked her to be a student-coach assistant this season and discovered that she’s not only basketball sharp but has the personality of a rainbow.

“She’s awesome. You won’t find someone more pleasant to be around. She’s got a sweet personality. She’s really sharp and has a great passion for the game,” Kaneshiro said.

Tomlin is also very humble. Unless the Vulcans Googled her, they didn’t know her back story. She told the team about herself on Thursday at practice.

“Not all of them knew about her,” Kaneshiro said. “She’s very humble and doesn’t like to bring attention to herself. They got to know her a little better. I’m sure it was inspiring, getting over that fight, especially when you see her today on the other side of it.

“She’s so positive and upbeat. I’ve never seen her have a bad day. You always feel better, at least I know I do, after you see her. She’s been terrific for us. We’re lucky to have her.”

As for her role on the team, Tomlin sounds as if she graduated from the school of positive reinforcement.

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“I help out at practice with drills. I’m here for moral support,” she said. “I’m friends with a lot of girls on the team. I’m there to pick them up when things aren’t going so well.”

Tomlin’s playing status is still up in the air. She has yet to get medical clearance. She hasn’t hit the court, but she’s around the team as a student-assistant coach and a rainbow.

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