Sheehan’s Joelle MarkAnthony might be the one of the busiest players in high school girlsbasketball. The junior forward/center leads the Titans in scoring and rebounding at 18.0 points per game and 11.4 boards per contest. She is also in the Junior Achievement Club and if that’s not enough, the two-sport athlete, who made All-State in soccer last season, is the oldest of five siblings and has even taken up cooking for her younger siblings.
“Usually easy things like Ramen noodles and mac and cheese,” she said. “I’ll make sandwiches for them. Peanut butter and jelly is one of their favorites.”
To MarkAnthony, it’s just another day.
“I do whatever I can to help out,” she said. “Whether its helping them get ready to go, getting their books and their bags set anything to help to make her (mother’s) day easier.”
In The Classroom
MarkAnthony is currently taking all honors classes and one AP course at Sheehan. She is the president of the Junior Achievement China Student Exchange Program, in Wallingford Peer Advocate, helps run the Sheehan blood dives and is an amateur cartoonist.
Her school day is always jam packed.
“When I go to school I make sure I get everything I need to for the day,” she said. “I talk to my teachers I need to, and I get all of my paperwork out.”
It’s a lot to take on, but Sheehan coach Mike Busillo said he doubts his leading scorer would want it any other way.
“She’s the type of kid who would be lost if she didn’t have so much responsibility,” the coach said.
MarkAnthony is always concerned with getting better academically. She said some of her classes are difficult, but she’s willing to put in the time to figure everything out.
“It got a little bit heavier, I started two new classes,” MarkAnthony said. “But everyday I write down my assignments and use my study halls wisely. I get my work done on time, and I see my teachers for extra help if I need it.”
The junior also stays active in her clubs. In the Junior Achievement Club, she is traveling to China this summer as part of a business student exchange program. The trip will venture into Shanghai and Beijing from late July into early August.
“It’s a great responsibility, and I’m very grateful that I can be a part of this,” she said.
On The Court
MarkAnthony has a lot going on in school and before practice, she tries to complete her homework. With all she has on her plate, one would think Busillo would take it easy on her during practice.
“Short answer, no,” he said smiling.
However, MarkAnthony said she loves every minute of it.
“I know my game comes from me passing to my teammates, them passing to me and us communicating. My game is about the whole team.”
The team has responded well as Olivia Collette has nailed 36 3-pointers and Kaitlin Lagase, Caitlin Read and Nikki Kern have all contributed.
MarkAnthony doesn’t say too much during practices. When Busillo talks, she listens and looks him straight in the eye. Busillo said having a player like her is a luxury.
“Her maturity level is so high,” he said. “It just helps.”
It also helps that she has continuously worked on her game. MarkAnthony has gone from scoring 100 points freshman year, to 250 sophomore year, to already 288 in her junior season. Opposing teams have taken notice.
“She’s done a very good job understanding that when team’s double team her she’s got to give the ball up and she’s got to do it early in games to get the other girls going,” Busillo said.
MarkAnthony’s worked on that in practice and helped her team qualify for the state tournament in the tough Southern Connecticut Conference Housatonic Division. She’s even starting to get attention from Keene State, Assumption College, Western Connecticut State, Post University and Sacred Heart.
“So far it’s been exciting,” she said. “I have been getting talked to by a few coaches.”
And her coach said she deserves it.
“She’s come such a long way in the last couple of years,” he said. “I’m proud as heck of her.”
MarkAnthony is the oldest of her four siblings, and she said being a role model to them means everything to her.
“I try to be the best influence I can be on them,” she said. “I try to show them important values like honesty, and always be responsible and take responsibility for your actions.”
After practices and games, she comes home, finishes her homework and helps out around the house. Her father, Joe MarkAnthony, said Joelle has made him proud.
“Joelle’s greatest strength is that she doesn’t quit,” he said. “When she has a setback, either on or off the court, she battles back and becomes stronger. She’s always improving. She’s been fortunate to have had great teammates and great coaches helping her.”
And Joelle’s mother Colleen said the sky’s the limit for her daughter.
“I’m most proud of what she does outside of sports,” Colleen said. “She’s a very well-rounded young lady, and she’s got a bright future ahead of her.”
So with school work done, practice or a game complete and dinner cooked and dishes cleaned, Joelle can rest easy. She knows she’s got another hefty workload awaiting her in the morning, but it’s nothing the junior can’t handle.
“It does get stressful at times,” she said. “But I know that if I do get stressed out I can always talk to my friends and parents, and they tell me there is always a way and there’s always a solution.”