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Currents: passing the ball

Transition: As Basketball Career Ends, Surette Looks to Coaching

Noelle Surette '08, an Exercise Science major from Buxton, Maine, is having quite the final basketball season – at the end of January, the 5'9" forward became just the tenth player in Colby-Sawyer women's basketball history to score 1,000 points in her career. A month later, she was chosen The Commonwealth Coast Conference (TCCC) Player of the Week. By early March, her team had clinched the Commonwealth Coast Conference Championship with a victory over Western New England College and were headed to the NCAA Division III National Tournament.

Four years in New London have gone faster than Surette imagined they would, and as the winter sports season melts away, she's realizing that her time as a college athlete is nearly over. It's been a time of growth and transformation, of exploration both in athletics and academics – Surette started out as a History major, and added a new sport (lacrosse) to her activities.

Exactly What I Was Looking For

As a high-school student, Surette knew she wanted a small school environment in a place where she could play basketball. Basketball head coach George Martin, now in his sixteenth season here, was a big factor in Surette choosing Colby-Sawyer.

“I really liked the program that Coach Martin had here and the kind of players he brought in. I liked his coaching style,” says Surette. “Colby-Sawyer ended up being exactly what I was looking for because I've enjoyed small classes and lots of one-on-one time with professors, and it's a small enough school that I recognize people wherever I go.”

Joining the team as a freshman, Surette says, was really nerve-racking because of the talent of the players, and the change of pace and intensity from the high-school level. By the second week of school team members are working out and playing pick-up games in preparation for a season that starts in mid-October and goes, they hope, well into March with tournament play. “It's pretty time-consuming, at least three hours a day, but if you love it the schedule isn't that bad,” Surette says.

Life on and off the court is intertwined for Surette, and she uses the knowledge she gains as an Exercise Science major to improve her performance.

“I decided to get my certification in personal training, and being able to get myself into better shape has definitely affected my playing ability,” says Surette. “I actually worked with my teammates in the pre-season as their personal trainer in an effort to help the team as a whole. A couple of players have said that working out with me and lifting made a difference in their overall strength and confidence on the floor, which was nice to hear.”

Though she's racked up a pile of awards and titles, including the New Hampshire NCAA Division III Basketball Coaches Association Player of the Year for her efforts during the 2006-2007 season, it's the team that Surette cares about most. The thought of scoring 1,000 career points wasn't even on her radar until others started talking about it, and she's quick to point out that it's not her achievement alone.

“If someone had asked if I'd be a 1,000 point scorer in college I probably would have laughed at them,” she says. “But I was fortunate to have a really good season last year - I had a great point guard, great teammates, great coaching, so I was able to score a lot of points. I began to think maybe I did have a chance to reach that level if things went well this season. It's a great personal accomplishment, to know only nine others have actually done this at Colby-Sawyer, but I definitely have my teammates and coach to thank.”

Game On

After graduation, basketball will continue to play a major role in Surette's life, as she would like to get into coaching - ideally both basketball and her old sport of softball - in her home state. “I'll go back to Maine and probably start at the high school level and work my way up from there, whether at a public or private school, I don't care; I'll go wherever I can have an opportunity to coach,” says Surette. “And I want to keep playing after college, too, so I'll look for a women's league to join.” She'd like to try field events like shotput and javelin, and in a few years, perhaps, she'll think about graduate school and studying physical therapy.

In the meantime, she'll savor her basketball memories, especially of being part of the conference championship teams as both a freshman and sophomore, and of big comebacks, like last year when the Chargers rallied to come from 20-plus points behind to win a game that seemed lost.

“Students should take advantage of the four years you're here because there's nothing better than being with your teammates, and you'll have the memory for the rest of your life,” she advises. “Get to know people as soon as you can - I was really reserved as a freshman and didn't know a lot of people outside of basketball. The last couple years I've gotten a lot more involved in things, like Dance Club, and I know more people. The more friends you have, the easier it is to get through college.”

- Kate Dunlop Seamans