By Bob Whitney (@WhitneyBob)
Former Braintree High School scholar-athlete Rachel Norton is finishing her senior year at Bowdon College.
The 2013 Braintree High School graduate, three-sport captain (volleyball, basketball and lacrosse) and honor student has continued to excel at the collegiate level, both in the classroom and on the basketball court.
Norton, in her senior year, is the captain of the Polar Bears’ basketball team where she has led the squad to an 8-0 record and a No. 13 ranking in the most recent national poll (third in the Noontime Sports Women’s Basketball Top 10).
Norton took some time out of a hectic exam week schedule to reflect upon her college experiences.
What motivated you to continue to play at the college level and why did you chose Bowdoin?
I’ve played sports for as long as I can remember, and I just wasn’t ready to give that up after high school. I couldn’t imagine not continuing to play basketball, and perhaps more importantly, I couldn’t imagine not being part of a team. I chose Bowdoin because it has strong academics and athletics, and I felt that I would have a good balance between the two.
What have you noticed are the biggest differences in transitioning from playing in high school to college?
I would certainly say that the pace of the game is significantly faster in college. Everyone is stronger, faster, and quicker.
How prepared were you to play at the collegiate level?
I definitely experienced a transition period on the court where it took me some time to adjust to the faster pace of the college game. However, I think I was extremely prepared for college in the sense that I knew what kind of player and teammate I needed to be at the next level, and I can thank Kristen McDonnell for that. First of all, she stressed the importance of being a good teammate – to be gritty, selfless, and positive – and she always stressed things like defense and boxing out over hitting shots. Everything she values at Braintree High is also valued on my college team, so in that sense, I was able to transition very easily.
What challenges have you faced on the offensive end?
I’ve definitely struggled with confidence on the offensive end. I’ve been working on being more of an offensive threat, and having confidence in taking my shot and attacking the basket. So far this season, I’ve been doing a better job than in past years.
What are the challenges of being a student-athlete?
Time management is definitely a challenge. Striking a balance between sports and school requires planning and good time management skills.
What are the benefits/values of playing a sport in college?
I think being part of a team is an invaluable experience, and it has made my time at Bowdoin incredibly enjoyable. I certainly feel that I’ve learned lessons through my sport – the importance of hard work, how to overcome adversity, how to be a good leader – that will serve me later in life.
What advice would you give to a high school player looking for a good fit to play college basketball and get a quality education?
I would definitely encourage them to reach out to coaches and visit as many schools as they can. I’ve really enjoyed my experience as a D3 college athlete and feel like I’m getting a quality education while playing for a strong basketball program.
What are your plans after graduating from Bowdoin?
Great question… I’ll get back to you!
Finally, what kind of senior season do you expect to have?
We’re off to a strong start, so I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do this year, hopefully in both the NESCAC tournament and NCAA tournament. I’m just trying to focus on one game at a time, and really soak up and enjoy my last season of basketball.
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