When second-seeded Duke takes on third-seeded Michigan State in the Sweet Sixteen on Friday, the odds are very high that the TV cameras will find their way to Sonya Curry.
The mother of Duke sharpshooter Seth Curry and wife of former Virginia Tech star and 15-year NBA veteran Dell Curry, Sonya has long been a favorite shot for college hoops TV producers, going back to when her oldest son, Stephen, was starring at Davidson in the 2008 NCAA Tournament. It all came to a head during the Duke-UNC game at Cameron Indoor Stadium in February, when her celebration of a 3-pointer by her youngest son had her trending on Twitter.
The day after driving back from Duke’s game against Creighton in Philadelphia to Charlotte – where she resides and runs the Christian Montessori School at Lake Norman – Sonya Curry spoke with Lost Lettermen managing editor Chris Mahr about how she’s dealt with her unexpected place in the college hoops spotlight.
Lost Lettermen: At this point, can you tell when TV cameras are trained on you?
Sonya Curry: Ironically, I’m still not aware when they’re on me. I’m so nervous when I come in that I’m just focused on the game. But in my mind, I’ve become accustomed to the fact that when the kids do something, they’ll want to show the parents.
I’ve tried to prepare myself mentally for it but haven’t quite figured it out. In Greensboro [for the ACC tournament], a cameraman came and sat next to me for five minutes. That was weird! I have no idea what they did with that footage since [Duke] lost so early, so there’s probably footage of me somewhere saying and doing crazy things.
LL: What do you remember about the Duke-UNC game, when you did a little dance to celebrate Seth’s 3-pointer?
SC: At this point, I’m trying to find more ways to have fun when I watch my sons play. He was having a bad game, so when he made that shot I was just enjoying that moment and not worrying about the cameras. It was the first time I’ve ever said to myself, “I’m going to enjoy this.”
LL: How aware were you of the impact you made on social media that night?
SC: I don’t do any of that social media stuff. I’m on Facebook, but my friends always ask, “Why do you even bother? You’re never on it.” Of course my daughter [Sydel] is on social media and she said that I was trending, and I said, “I don’t want to hear that.” I come from a very expressive family, so it’s just in my nature. Most of the time in the past I’ve been caught making a crazy face.
LL: Speaking of which, what was it like the first time you appeared on TV screens, when Stephen was at Davidson?
SC: For me it’s been two totally different things with Stephen and Seth. With Stephen, it was unexpected and kind of a shocker. All of that was one whole crazy experience for everyone involved. At Duke it’s different because it’s the second time around and because it’s more of a pressure-cooker. Seth’s under more pressure, while with Stephen it was all fun.
LL: How have your kids reacted to their mom being famous?
SC: All three of my children respond totally different. Stephen kind of enjoys it and thinks it’s kind of cute. Sydel enjoys it because she’s really into social media; she’s kept me up on things [whenever I’ve appeared]. Seth gives you a side grin and doesn’t let you know whether he likes it or not. He’ll make a smart comment about it, we’ll jockey back and I’ll say something like, “I’m keeping you relevant.”
LL: What effect, if any, has this whole “famous sports mom” thing had on you?
SC: What’s so funny is that lately, if I’m watching a game, I’m watching who they put the camera on — whether it’s the beautiful girlfriend or the son of a pro athlete. And I do watch the parents to see what they’re doing.
But it doesn’t really help me. When I’m in the moment, I’m in the moment. I just want to enjoy it as a parent the way I like to enjoy it.