It’s not overstating the case to call Dawn Royster one of the premier female athletes in Rockland County history. On the basketball court, she dominated as few have before or since, and carved an indelible niche on the scholastic, collegiate and professional levels. ln track and field she set three county records and could have been a superstar in that sport had she opted to pursue it beyond high school.
Royster, a 1983 Nyack High School graduate, was voted Nyack High’s all time top female athlete in a 1988 Journal-News opinion poll of readers. It’s easy to see why. The 6-foot inside threat was twice first-team All-County, and Rockland Player of the Year and second-team All-State in 1983.
That year, she averaged 22.5 points, 13 rebounds and 7 blocked shots a
game to lead the Indians to a 23-1 record, the sole loss coming in a 52-49 loss to Westbury in the Class B state semi-finals. In her three-year varsity career, Nyack, under coach Tony Boffa, won 55 of 65 games and in Royster’s last two seasons did not lose a Rockland Public School Athletic League game.
Royster scored in double figures in 62 of 64 games and wound up with 1,215 career points, then sixth-best among Rockland girls and currently 14th. But her intimidating presence and mastery around the boards was what stood out most in people’s minds.
“The unique thing about Dawn Royster was her fabulous jumping ability and coordination,” said former Suffern High coach Margie Edmunds in the “Best Ever” article on Royster in 1988.” She was tall and she dominated the boards … she was one of the most dominating players ever in Rockland because she was a big inside player.”
In track, Royster set the still-standing county record in the five-event pentathlon, and her marks of 5-foot-7 in the high jump and 61.6 seconds in the 400 hurdles still rank second on the all-time list. She was a three time All-County selection in that sport and Athlete of the Season in 1982.
Royster’s high school success was merely a prelude to her collegiate exploits. She earned an athletic scholarship to the University of North Carolina, where – as a 6-foot, 1 3/4-inch center and forward – she twice made first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference and gained honorable mention All-America honors her senior year, 1987.
Royster was ACC Rookie of the Year her freshman year, and set school records for rebounds (26) and blocked shots (8) in a game and blocked shots in a season (114) her sophomore season. That year, she also led the Tar Heels to the ACC title, was chosen MVP of the ACC tournament, and played on the U.S. Junior Olympic team.
After sitting out her junior year with a knee injury, Royster came back as a senior to land a second All-ACC berth and establish a school career record for blocked shots, 329. She also was named to the East squad at the Olympic Sports Festival.
Royster, 34, capped her illustrious hardwood career with a four-year stint playing professional basketball in Europe. She played one year in Busto Arsizio, Italy, followed by three years in Spain – two in Barcelona and one in San Sebastian. Twice she earned All-Star accolades as a forward in the Spanish premier division.
Royster works as a senior technical manager for AT&T in Morristown, NJ, and lives in Orange, NJ, with her fiance, Jose Estefan Geronimo, and their 17- month-old daughter, Emiliana Ruth Marie. Another child, a boy, is due in late June.