by, Pete Janny and Colleen McNamara, Sports Editor & Staff Writer
Sophomore Emily LaPointe of the Manhattan College’s women’s basketball team will serve as the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference’s representative on the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Student-Athlete Engagement Group.
The goal of the group is to “serve as an amplifying voice for women’s basketball on key initiatives, legislation, and various issues.” This commission will work in collaboration with the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, the Division I Council, and the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Oversight Committee.
In only one season with the team, LaPointe has made a tremendous impact on and off the court. She was named MAAC Rookie of the Year last season, and will now be the only women’s basketball player from the MAAC involved with this new committee.
“I was humbled and honored to be asked to be part of this program,” LaPointe said. “I think she’s really looking for me to step up and to speak on behalf of the team and other girls in the conference.”
Being that she is still only an underclassman, LaPointe has the opportunity to create change for the rest of her career at Manhattan.
“As a sophomore, this student engagement group is valuable for me to see growth,” LaPointe said. “To be part of it from the start until I graduate is really exciting. I get to see all we accomplish as a group and hopefully pass it to teammates taking on leadership roles.”
Additionally, this new NCAA coalition will discuss current societal issues in response to the nation’s unrest over the treatment of black people. The opportunity to help mobilize her peers for the betterment of society is something LaPointe does not take lightly.
“Social Justice means a lot to me, and for Manhattan women’s basketball it is a priority for each of us,” LaPointe said. “We have an abundance of conversations and meetings because every single one of us is against racism and inequality. We are here to fight for social change and for social justice. Every single black life matters.”
Sherika Montgomery, who played basketball at Gardner Webb University and spent time in athletic administration roles for Winthrop University, the Big South Conference, and the Summit League, is currently employed as a liaison for the NCAA. She will oversee the work of the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Student-Athlete Engagement Group alongside fellow liaisons and former Division I basketball players Kelsey Gurganus, Ta’Shia Phillips, and Alyssa Rice.
“With student-athlete activism being at an all-time high, the timing is impeccable for an amplifying voice for the women’s basketball community,” Montgomery said.
As easy as it could be to just focus on basketball, LaPointe wants to be just as influential off the court as well. In reality, her dual roles as an athlete and student are inextricably linked in giving her this important mantle. LaPointe’s versatility on the court and in the classroom makes her uniquely qualified to command credibility in this role.
“As a division one female athlete, it is a challenge,” LaPointe said. “It is a huge adjustment, and is time consuming. You’re not just an athlete, you’re a student athlete.”
In addition to being named MAAC Rookie of the Year, LaPointe was selected for the MAAC All-Rookie Team, All-Met Third Team and was tabbed the Manhattan College Female Rookie of the Year. Her per game averages of 12.5 points, 1.9 threes, and 30.7 minutes last season were instrumental in securing the fourth seed in the MAAC Tournament for the Jaspers, the program’s best showing since earning the fourth seed for the 2011-2012 season.
“I was so humbled and blessed by all my freshman accomplishments,” LaPointe said. “I give all credit to my team and coaching staff, it is because of them that I had the confidence to do what I did.”
The Jaspers were gearing up to play the Quinnipiac Bobcats on Thursday, March 12 in Atlantic City before the tournament was terminated due to the rapidly spreading novel coronavirus. The heartbreak of that anticlimactic ending to the season was partially made up for at the tournament’s awards ceremony, where LaPointe was crowned with the most prestigious honor a freshman could receive.
“My favorite memory was the award ceremony at the MAAC tournament,” LaPointe said. “Two of my teammates facetimed my parents so that they could see it live. They announced me winning rookie of the year, to see the genuine support of my team was something I am grateful for since you truly do not get that everywhere.”
The 2020-2021 Manhattan women’s basketball squad has a solid core of players returning from last season. Aside from LaPointe, the team will be led by important contributors like Courtney Warley, Gabby Cajou, D’yona Davis, and Lynette Taitt.
On Sept. 22, the MAAC became the first conference to release a schedule format for the upcoming college basketball season. After an abbreviated stretch of non-conference competition starting in late November, the MAAC women’s basketball regular season will commence on Dec. 9, 2020 and run until Mar. 6, 2021. Each team will play each other twice, totaling 20 conference games.
The Lady Jaspers are set to start their MAAC campaign on the road at Rider on Wednesday, Dec. 9.