By Adam Bernstein
There were ten seconds left on the clock. She passed the ball, then ran to the other side of the court to bring a defender with her to create open space for her teammate. With seven seconds left, her teammate slowly dribbled left, then flung a cross-court pass to the shooting guard, who just came around the pick. With four seconds left, she caught the ball and squared her body to the basket. She released the ball with perfect rotation as it came off of her fingertips and soared towards the basket. With two seconds left, the ball hit the back rim, and the crowd went completely silent. They thought they had lost the game. But with one second left, a teammate’s hand came out of nowhere to get the rebound and guide her shot up and through the net. Just after, the buzzer sounded and the crowd erupted. Michelle Sorise had just won Middlebury College the game.
Many know Ms. Sorise as a teacher or girls JV basketball coach. However, many don’t know her as an all-star power forward and a two-time all-conference player and high school scholar athlete.
During her time at Division Avenue High School in Levittown, she set the record for the most rebounds. After, she played four years of Division III basketball at Middlebury College in Vermont. While studying abroad, she played on the team at Edinburgh University in Scotland.
Ms. Sorise loved college basketball. She said, “My teammates were my family. We spent so much time together. At the Division III level, there is no scholarship money, so everybody is playing simply for the love of the game.”
While many college students say that playing a sport in college takes away from their academics, Sorise had the opposite experience. She admitted that it was a tough adjustment to make at first. “My freshman year it was difficult. Often times I would leave papers and labs to the last minute. It was a struggle to get things done after a long travel weekend. I needed to better manage my time, and basketball taught me how to do that,” she said.
As time went on, it became easier for her to balance her schoolwork and basketball. She said, “My senior year I had a 4.0. I grew as a student because of what I learned on the basketball court.”
For example, off season workouts, 5 a.m. practices, and late night scrimmages instilled in her a work ethic that she still values today.
Ms. Sorise recommends that South students consider playing college sports. She said, “There is no hesitation in my mind that South students have the drive and ability to advance their skills and play at the college level. Basketball was the highlight of my college experience.”