HARTFORD >> The shy, soft-spoken Capital Prep wing/post player smiled as she showed her little sister how to shoot a basketball. Junior Desiree Elmore, who helped lead the Trailblazers to its second consecutive state title last season and was named NHR All-State, has always been open to helping out.
“It’s not just about Desiree,” said Prep Academic Advisor Kelly Horan. “It’s about her teammates, it’s about her family, it’s about her community. She’s very well-rounded.”
Elmore made the All-State team as a freshman, too. She plays alongside the Connecticut Gatorade Player of the Year, in Kiah Gillespie. Elmore said she doesn’t want the spotlight, she just wants to win. Her coach, Tammy Millsaps said she exemplifies that in every practice and game.
“She’s expected every night to go out and perform,” the coach said. “Some nights that might be 20 points, 10 rebounds. Some nights it might be 14 points four rebounds.”
When she’s not winning state titles and dominating on the basketball court, she’s helping kids at her school. Horan was Elmore’s seventh grade science teacher and always liked Elmore’s attitude.
“Her first day here, my first day here, we’ve been hooked ever since,” Horan said.
Now as her adviser, she gave Elmore a leadership advisory role. Elmore helps students set weekly goals and helps them stay positive .
“It’s kind of nice because I get to sit back and watch her lead,” Horan said.
She can do that during games, too. Elmore’s highly recruited, thanks to her time playing AAU at CBC and now for iExcel. From Providence to Georgia Tech, Elmore has been sought after by numerous Division I schools, which is nothing new to Elmore.
“She got her first high major, which was Marquette, in the eighth grade,” said her father, Leon.
The attention has not gone to her head.
“I can’t stop here,” she said. “Just because they’re interested that doesn’t mean they can never become disinterested.”
Stopping has never been in Elmore’s plans. Between her leadership advisory duties and basketball, she’s also taking six classes at Capital Prep. At C Prep, the summer vacation is over and Elmore is back in class, which can make the travel that comes with AAU basketball tricky.
“(My teachers) contact me back with the work I need to complete,” Elmore said.
And when all the work is complete and the games are over, there are still chores to do, or not.
“That’s a very interesting topic,” said her mom, Tonish, as she smiled.
Tonish said after school, basketball and dinner it’s usually close to nine o’clock. Even though most chores don’t get completed, she’s proud of all that Deisree brings to the table.
“We are a family of faith,” Tonish said. “We are grateful that she’s been given a gift and it’s our pleasure to do everything we can to nurture and give her everything she needs”
Even if that’s some noise at the games. Tonish, who was a cheerleader, said she’s vocal at the games. Meanwhile Leon, who played at Weaver, Wilbraham and Monson and Western Connecticut State University, said he is always willing to lend a helping hand on the court.
“I’ll have to demonstrate and show her what I’m teaching and still show her who’s the boss,” he said, smiling.
And Desiree was doing the same for her little sister, Morgan. In an empty Capital Prep gym, Desiree helped Morgan, who also attends Prep, hold the ball, aim it at the basket and drain the shot.
“Life is bigger than just basketball and life is bigger than yourself,” Tonish said she preaches to Desiree.
It’s a lesson Desiree has learned.