The number of Connecticut’s high school girls’ basketball players who will be playing on Division I or Division II college teams continues to climb. However, for the players who aren’t getting collegiate attention just yet, or seniors who are not sure what they want to do academically in college, prep school is becoming an attractive option.
Prep schools are almost synonymous with the boys’ game, as the guys use a post grad year to get their grades up or bulk up in the weight room. Choate Rosemary Hall student-athlete Micaela Montini, who graduated from Sacred Heart Academy last year, and Hamden Hall coach Megan Borelli, who coached at Guilford High School from 2007-2010, think it’s a good option for the girls, too.
Now I’m Ready
The first day of classes at Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford was nerve-wracking for Montini. Not because the post-graduate was worried about making new friends, but because Montini wanted to make sure she knew where she was going.
“At Sacred Heart Academy all of my classes were in one building,” she said. “I was afraid I’d get lost on my way to class.”
After four years of high school, Montini said she didn’t know where she was going career-wise and was unable to pick a major. She also was not getting a ton of college attention athletically.
That’s all changed.
“I’m definitely getting more looks now that I did the post grad year,” she said.
Montini said Saint Anselm and Trinity College have expressed interest in her. She is taking college level courses and said when she picks a college in the spring; she wants to be a nurse.
She said rushing into college when you’re not sure of what you want to major in is not too smart.
“If you don’t really know what you want to do, you should look into the prep school option,” she said. “It’s a great decision.”
Choate’s tuition is $50,350 if you live on campus and $38,810 if you live off, according to the school’s website.
Montini said going to Choate has paid dividends on the court, where she said a faster-paced game with a shot clock has helped her improve.
“I’ve become faster and stronger,” Montini said. “And playing with a shot clock, you have to think more on your toes. You don’t have as much time to slow down and think about every move you’re going to make.”
Choate plays in the Founders League, and Montini said she doesn’t play against post-graduates too often, but the games are still tough.
“The competition is much better than it is in the other leagues,” she said. “They’re all very athletic and fast.”
A Different Game
Borelli coached at Guilford High School. Currently coaching at Hamden Hall, she said she’s busier on the sidelines now than she’s ever been.
“Each possession you have to do more coaching and the kids have to do more playing,” Borelli said.
Hamden Hall plays with a shot clock in the Fairchester Athletic Association. She said the game is markedly different from the one she coached in the CIAC.
“Even when we would scrimmage the public schools in the preseason, the amount of times that you have to defend for a minute or a minute and a half because the teams are stalling,” she said. “It just speeds the game up.”
The amount of scouts at games is different, too.
“At our championship game, there are six games all in one day, and the stands are filled with college coaches from tremendous academic schools,” the coach said.
She said her team doesn’t see post-grads too often either and the level of competition in the FAA fluctuates.
However, the one constant is college bound students according to the coach. She said the small class sizes, college-level courses and motivated students and faculty make it an environment conducive to learning that should be an option for any parent. Hamden Hall’s tuition is $32,990, according to the school’s website.
“I was a public school kid, I never thought of going to a private school,” she said. “Now that I’m here, just the environment is a really good one and it’s something I would look at for my kids.”
Borelli has gotten a few CIAC transfers, Alyssa Devin (Guilford), Joycelyn Dos Santos (Lauralton Hall) and Kaila Defrancesco (North Branford) all came into the program.
Borelli said she is surprised more families don’t at least consider prep school.
“Educationally it opens a lot of doors for you,” she said. “There are a lot of opportunities.”