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News Eagle - Hawley, PA
  • Harvard student excels boths on and off the court

  • Below is the Kids Korner column that published in the Jan. 15th edition of The Villager.
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  • Basketball is a very popular sport. You have to be pretty good to get onto a high school team. You have to be great to get onto a college team. And you have to be really awesome to get onto a Division 1 team, because they play some of the best college teams in the country.
    But for some schools, you don't just have to be a great athlete, you have to be amazing in your studies too, just like Erin McDonnell, a Harvard University student from New Jersey. She is #40 on the their women's basketball team.
    I was originally interested in this interview because Erin attends Harvard, and from what I hear, Harvard is a very difficult school to get into! Then I found out that she plays basketball for them and decided that would be an equally fun interview!
    I am very impressed how she keeps up with her studies while still being on the team! Kudos to you, Erin!
    I recently had the opportunity to talk Erin about her busy life and amazing accomplishments.
    Q. How many hours a day did you study to get into Harvard?
    A. I would get home from practice around 7 p.m. each day, eat dinner, and then study until bedtime (around 11:30 p.m.). I would do a lot of homework on the weekends as well.
    Q. Did you have to try out to get onto the team? If so, how hard was it?
    A. I was recruited by Harvard since my sophomore year of high school. There are no tryouts for the team since the coaches, themselves, choose about three or four new girls every year to join the team.
    Q. How did you feel the first time you played a basketball game at Harvard? Were you nervous, excited or both?
    A. The first time I played my freshman year, I was much more nervous than excited. Of course, I was excited that my coach wanted me in the game, but I was nervous that I would air-ball a shot or do something silly. My first shot, a three pointer, was in fact an air-ball. However, another freshman air-balled her first shot as well, so I did not feel as embarrassed.
    Q. What was your most exciting game of all time?
    A. The most exciting game during my career thus far was our home game against Princeton last year. They beat us earlier in the season and were ranked #1 in the conference. For our second meeting against the Tigers, we learned from our mistakes, stuck to the scouting report, and ended up beating them by three points. We all started to cheer and hug each other immediately after the buzzer went off. It was a pretty incredible feeling.
    Page 2 of 3 - Q. Why did you choose #40 as your number?
    A. I have been number 40 since middle school. My brothers started to wear number 40 as well so I decided to keep the number for college. Also, there are 40 minutes in a college game so it also represents how I do my best to give 100 percent for the 40 minutes on the floor.
    Q. Do you know anybody else that also picked their number for a specific reason?
    A. There seems to be a pattern of guards choosing smaller numbers and post players choosing larger numbers.
    Q. What was the most hilarious moment during a game?
    A. The most hilarious moment during a game was our first game this year at DePaul University. Our center won the jump ball and tipped it to our point guard who proceeded to dribble towards DePaul's basket. The funny thing was that nobody noticed, not even the refs, until one minute later after DePaul had already scored on our basket. The refs stopped the game for a few minutes to determine who should get the points. They ended up giving the two points to DePaul, even though they scored on our basket. Our coach rolled her eyes at us, but we could tell that she had just been laughing.
    Q. How long have you been playing basketball?
    A. I have been playing basketball sine I was four years old. I went to a very small Catholic elementary school that only offered basketball and all of my friends played it as well. By the time we were all in 6th grade we were a force to be reckoned with!
    Q. What keeps you motivated?
    A. The love I have for my teammates, and the game of basketball itself, motivates me to be the best teammate and basketball player I can be. The entire team knows we have the potential to win the Ivy League Championship this year, and we want it so badly for each other. The hours we have spent lifting, shooting, and training motivates us to prove to ourselves, and each other, that we have earned the right to call ourselves a championship team.
    Q. What was it like to go from high school to college basketball?
    A. It was an enormous transition and was definitely challenging. In college, all of the players are faster and stronger and have more experience. Harvard recruits some of the top players in the nation and it took me some time to figure out my role. The challenges that I faced my freshman year have made me a stronger person both mentally and physically. I will always remember the life lessons that college basketball has taught me and I am confident that they will help me in my future endeavors.
    Page 3 of 3 - Q. How do you practice basketball and still keep up with your studies?
    A. Although playing D1 basketball at an Ivy League school sounds daunting, it is not as bad as it seems if you love basketball and studying like I do. Even with 30 hours of basketball every week, I find time to devote to my studies and meetings with my teachers. Every Sunday, I plan my entire week out and schedule when I am going to do my homework. I meet with my teachers regularly to make sure I am on top of the material, and I do a lot of work on our off days.
    Q. How far do you travel to play games?
    A. We usually have about two tournaments during non-conference play which require us to fly. This season we flew to Chicago and Arizona and last year we flew to Michigan and San Diego. During our conference games, we take a bus to every game. The longest bus ride is usually about five hours to Cornell, without traffic.
    Q. Do you participate in any other sports?
    A. I do not play another sport in college since basketball takes up the entire year. However, I have been playing tennis ever since I can remember and always love hitting with my family and friends.
    Q. Do you say "Go Crimson!" or "Go Crimsons!"?
    A. Go Crimson!
    You are doing so awesome, Erin! You are very talented and smart! Good luck to you and your team this season! To find out more about the crimson visit: www.gocrimson.com/sports/wbkb/index.
    My wish is that her story will inspire kids in the area!
    See you 'round the Korner!
    Aurora Lefever is a fourth grade student at North Pocono Intermediate. Please e-mail any ideas or suggestions for future columns to editor@moscowvillager.com with a subject line "Kids Korner."
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