The bill for AAU basketball travel was about $2,000.
For four summers, Sheila Doss said, her daughter, Asia, did her part to pitch in.
She bought coolers, cases of water and ice and stood in the Detroit humidity, selling chilled water bottles for a buck on the corner of Greenfield and 8 Mile. To supplement the water sales, Sheila said, she would take Asia to Sam’s Club to buy candy, which Asia would then sell to classmates.
Recalling her daughter’s successes — Doss said her daughter helped contribute to the Michigan Crossover travel fees and earned a little extra spending money — Sheila Doss said she wasn’t surprised to receive a call from Asia last month explaining the Ohio State junior guard had been accepted into the school’s civil engineering major.
“She’s a hustler,” Sheila Doss said. “She’s a hard worker and if it’s something she wants to do, she’s going to make sure it’s done and it’s done right.”
This semester, Doss began her first full slate of civil engineering-specific classes. Through two-plus years of difficult prerequisite courses, she has maintained a balance of student engineer and student athlete that’s rare not only at Ohio State but across college athletics.
Through the late hours spent studying, the classes missed for road and weekday home games and the challenging coursework, Doss said one question — why — is more common than most.
Doss’ usual response: “Why not?”
“Ever since I was young, I just liked seeing how things work and building things, breaking things down,” she said. “So I was like, ‘Why not be an engineer?’ ”
Asia might be the first Doss to pair Division I basketball and engineering, but she’s not the first to build with her hands. Her father, George, works at Chrysler’s Warren Truck Assembly Plant and comes from a long line of Dosses to work for Chrysler.
When the 5-foot-7 guard is not on the court, Doss is often knee-deep in statistics, which she’s taking for the first time, or another course which she said focuses on the construction process.
“A lot of it has to do with soil, and I never really thought about that, but of course you have to build on something,” Doss said. “It’s all foundations, structures, things like that.”
It’s difficult, but it’s what she has wanted for years.
During her recruitment process, Doss ruled out going to college in her home state. She also narrowed her scholarship offers to Ohio State, Illinois and Purdue based on the engineering programs.
“She was very interested in engineering and you know I think it’s a credit to her that her goals were academic plus athletic,” said Frank Orlando, Doss’ high school coach, now in his 50th year at Detroit Country Day School. “She appreciated what Ohio State said to her and what they proposed, and that she could make it in athletics and she could make it in engineering.”
In coach Kevin McGuff’s 15 years as a Division I head coach, he said it hasn’t been common for his players to double as engineering students. McGuff said he and his staff researched the available programs and how they would work for a student-athlete while recruiting Doss.
“It’s extremely difficult. You have to be incredibly bright, which she is, but more importantly be incredibly disciplined with how you schedule your time, and she’s doing it,” McGuff said. “It’s tough, but she’s really doing it and it’s a really amazing thing for her to be involved in.”
For every hour she’s in class, Doss said she tries to study between an hour and a half and two hours. But during basketball season, the amount of class time varies.
A morning practice block means Doss’ class schedule is afternoon-heavy, which is fine unless a weekday night game is scheduled. She said most professors are understanding and a few update their course notes online, but the absences sometimes require extra workarounds like attending office hours.
“I feel like that’s probably the worst part. People are like, ‘Nice, I don’t have to go to class,’ and I’m like, ‘I want to go to class,’ ” she said. “I need to go to class.”
Doss said teammates often ask her about her classes and offer an encouraging, “Asia, you’ve got this.”
“And I’m like, ‘Man, this is hard,’ ” she said.
She noted Math 1172, a fast-paced, differential calculus-heavy course required for entrance into the civil engineering major as “literally all over the place.”
Doss has participated in engineering-related career fairs and said she is looking into the Bucks Go Pro internship program, but recognizes the time constraints associated with voluntary summer workouts.
As she learns more about the expansive building process and the lawyers, engineers, inspectors and contractors who help put together the finished product, Doss said she is unsure of what specifically she’d like to do with a civil engineering degree.
She is also undecided as to whether she will delay that career field to pursue post-graduate basketball somewhere.
“I really don’t know. People ask me that all the time and I’m like, ‘I’m probably not going to play basketball,’ ” she said. “But I feel like the minute you start saying that, then you end up doing it and you’re like, ‘Oh, oops.’ I feel like I would have a hard time letting it go if the opportunity comes.”
When Doss made the call to her mother in January about her acceptance into the civil engineering program, Sheila started laughing.
She joked to her daughter that she already had a house picked out from Ohio State’s trip to Estero, Florida, for a Thanksgiving tournament.
“She’s like, ‘Mom, hold your horses.’ ”