LAINEY NOLAN, a product of the Fr Mathew’s basketball Club, just finished Prep School with Hun School at Princeton New Jersey in the US.
This was a superb experience for this young lady as she got a chance to study for a year before she made a decision where she will go to college next year.
It also gave her a chance to play at a very good basketball level in the Mid Athletic Prep League in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut regions.
Lainey spoke to the Echo, recently to talk about her career thus far.
“I joined Fr Mathew’s Basketball Club in 2010, at the age of nine, which was a great start,” said Lainey.
“From the outset of my training at Fr Mathew’s, the excellent coaching, encouragement and support provided by my coaches equipped me with the skills and confidence to make good progress in basketball, as I progressed through the various age levels.
“I was most fortunate to play on a Fr Mathew’s underage team that achieved a lot of local league and championship successes over those years. More recently, I was a member of Fr Mathew’s senior women’s team that has won three titles at national level.
“All of my coaches at Fr Mathew’s encouraged and guided me in developing my basketball skills, for which I am extremely grateful."
Their contribution opened the way to achieving success at provincial and national levels, culminating in me being selected for the Irish U16 team.
“Having the opportunity to represent my country also provided me with the opportunity to visit and play in eight different countries, meet new people at home and abroad, have team-mates who will now be lifelong friends, learn the importance of team-work and experience the highs and lows of sport.
"That prepares you for similar experiences in life and to appreciate how commitment and dedication to the task are crucial if an objective is to be achieved.
“I was fortunate and privileged to be awarded a scholarship to the Hun School, a private, co-educational, secondary boarding school located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States."
The school provides education for students from sixth through 12th grades.
“The criteria for the award of my scholarship included the ability to play at a high standard in basketball, which I was able to satisfy by being picked to play on the Ireland U16 team, and also playing at a high level with Fr Mathew’s.
“It also included a requirement of achieving a high standard in my secondary school studies, and in the grades I was awarded in the Leaving Certificate examination."
Nolan's scholarship reflects the excellent progress the Fr Mathew’s club is making and the fine contribution it makes to the lives of so many people in this city.
“Playing with Fr Mathew’s Basketball Club has been a wonderful experience, and without their help I would not have been awarded this scholarship.”
In the course of its basketball programme, the Hun School Team played against teams from New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut, as well as competing in the Mid Atlantic Prep League.
”Coming from a schedule of training twice a week with my club teams it took a while to adjust to having team practice six days a week, as well as regular strength and conditioning sessions.
“It was also a very condensed season with 25 games taking place over a three-month period. Adjusting to this new regime was helped greatly by the great coach at Hun School, where the facilities are exceptional.
“The programme of studies was both interesting and challenging, thanks mainly to the inspiring teachers.
“Living away from home for the year was a new and exciting experience, which also provided a special opportunity to foster lifelong friendships, and to enjoy the many new and interesting aspects of a different environment and culture."
The team had a very good season with an 18-7 record and we finished runners-up in the State Championships, which was a significant achievement for Hun School.
“I was very satisfied with my own personal performance and the contribution I made to the team’s success. I averaged 10 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two blocks per game for the season.
“I also got an opportunity to further develop my game by adapting to the playing style that the Hun School coach sought to establish for the team.
”I am making the most of this wonderful opportunity at the Hun School of Princeton."
After completing her basketball and academic programmes, her plan is to return home and commence third-level studies in Ireland.
“My Leaving Cert results have presented me with a number of interesting options in this regard, and I’m sure my academic experience over the coming months at Hun School will be a strong influencing factor in shaping my course selection at university when I return.
“For the 2020-21 season, my aim is to resume playing with Fr Mathew’s,” added Lainey.
The experience of this year will stand to Lainey and to her Fr Mathew’s team for the future, and I would like to wish her the very best in her career and sport.