Laura Mendell hits her 1,000th point in her freshman year
Laura Mendell hit a milestone in her basketball career much sooner than normal.
The freshman starter on the Dartmouth High girls basketball team brought in her 1,000th point on February 3 in a match-up against cross-town rival Bishop Stang. She only needed seven points to reach the magic number, and reached that milestone in the third quarter.
Dartmouth Week sat down with Mendell, who has been playing varsity basketball since the seventh grade at Westport, after a recent practice to chat about the moment, basketball, and life as one of the high school’s youngest sports stars.
What were you thinking heading into the big game?
As soon as I woke up I just wanted to get it out of the way because I knew if I didn't it was going to keep bothering me. I was so nervous all day. I went into the game knowing I was going to have a toughly-defended game. I knew people were going to be tightly defending me, but I also knew I wasn’t going to perform the way I usually do because of nerves.
You’ve hit what for most players is their senior-year milestone. Where do you feel your career is right now?
It already feels like my junior year, and there’s still so much time left. When I started as a seventh grader I was so young and it was just so different. But I adjusted to it really fast in seventh grade, and by eighth grade it just felt like sophomore year. I feel like age doesn’t really matter to me; I just wanted to play the best I could for Westport and now for Dartmouth.
When did you catch the basketball itch?
Probably when I was seven or eight. When I got into middle school I realized this is what I want to do and this is what I wanted to focus on. I’ve always been really into sports. I play field hockey and I just like trying any sport. I eventually started to play AAU and got better and I knew basketball was what i wanted to focus on.
You’re in the seventh grade, and you’re trying out for a varsity position. What was that like?
I tried out at Westport but I came in kind of unsure. The coach was my teacher and he was looking at me but I didn’t expect to get a starting position. I went in not really confident but I performed well during tryouts.
But you made the team as its youngest player. Was it difficult at all?
I’ve always been the youngest, even in AAU and field hockey. I started on the varsity field hockey team too and I was the only freshman. It just matures me a lot - my game, and just me as a person. I’m used to it so it doesn’t really affect me as much as it did when I was really young.
What do you think you’ve taken away from your experience so far?
I think I’ve improved a lot, especially my maturity level as a person. I feel like playing high school basketball in seventh and eighth grade and being around the older girls really matured me as a person and it made me a stronger player as I tried out for new positions. I’ve never played point guard but I tried out for it in seventh grade. I went back to shooting guard in eighth grade and then freshman year I played point guard at a division two school.
Where do you see yourself going now?
I just want to keep going and see what happens next. I’m not just going to stop now. We’ll see what happens next. Hitting your 1,000th point is a one-time thing. It doesn’t happen again. It’s high school and it goes by so fast.