On the basketball and volleyball courts, Dembo Konte is a relentless grinder who never backs down from a challenge. When it comes to effort, he always empties the proverbial tank. Every team needs a lunch-pail guy who never shies away from donning the hard hat. That’s Konte in an (athletic) nutshell.
A senior at Tolman High, Konte is also blessed with incredible foresight concerning his future.
For the past three years, Konte has worked as a sales associate at the Tolman school store, an endeavor that in many ways has served as basic training concerning the job field he plans to enter upon graduating from college. Two days a week, he’ll be behind the counter before, during, and after school as his Tolman peers purchase items.
“I want to get into business. Building different skills through management or sales, it’s helped prepare me,” said Konte, who served as a captain for the Tolman High boys’ basketball team this past season. “Something like this, it’s about making sure the school store is in working order. When there aren’t any more students coming, that’s when you know it’s time to restock.”
A middle hitter on the Tolman/Shea co-op boys volleyball team that’s ranked among the best in Division III this spring, Konte’s involvement with the school store is through DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) that’s overseen by Bob D’Arezzo, a Tolman business teacher.
“A lot of the things that I’ve learned are essential skills. When I do take that next step in college, I’ll be better prepared,” said Konte, who realized early enough in life that he probably wasn’t going to land an athletic scholarship to play sports in college.
“There was some denial on my part, but I give a lot of credit to my family. Probably up until my junior season of basketball, I really wanted to try and play at the next level,” said Konte, “but I also realized there’s a lot more concerning my potential than just sports. I was already part of DECA and in some ways already prepared … being on the correct path.”
The proud owner of a 3.9-grade point average who ranks 16th in his class, Konte plans to study management at Providence College. Given his background with the Tolman school store, it stands to reason that he’ll have an opportunity to make inroads as a student worker at PC.
“Something like [working at the school store] will be on my résumé and something that definitely helps,” said Konte. “When I am applying for those kinds of positions … it might be shooting big but I would love to be a team manager for the [Friar men’s] basketball team.
“I knew I didn’t have the athletic résumé to stack up with others,” Konte delved further, “but realizing that I could hang with anybody in other aspects such as academics and extracurriculars … anything I wanted to go for, I could get there.”
Besides learning the ropes of inventory and keeping close tabs on dollar amounts, Konte views himself as a bit of a trailblazer concerning athletes becoming involved with extracurricular activities.
“Some of the athletes keep their heads down. I wanted to break that barrier to serve as an example for the younger classes,” he said. “Now you’re starting to see them join clubs.”
Sizing up the well-calculated steps he’s taken to date concerning his involvement in the school store, Konte hopes that what he projects is a desire to get a head start on his future.
“I really hope it gets across that I’ve been working hard for a long time … that I’m dedicated and willing to stick with something,” he said.
Brendan McGair is a sportswriter and columnist with the Pawtucket Times and the Woonsocket Call. A graduate of Providence College, McGair is a five-time recipient of the R.I. Sports Writer of the Year Award as voted by the National Sports Media Association (NSMA).
Follow McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03 and on Instagram @bwmcgair.