All three women’s basketball recruits for the Class of 2011 have different motives for committing to Yale — a family connection, the appeal of the subterranean structures, the dream of having tea with President Hu. But once they get here, the trio of incoming frosh will channel that enthusiasm into one goal: bringing home an Ivy League title for the Bulldogs.
Madeline Gobrecht, the daughter of Yale head coach Chris Gobrecht, will don Bulldog blue next year, along with Lindsey Williams of Naperville, Ill., and Yosepha “Yoyo” Greenfield of Los Angeles, Calif. All three girls originally hail from the Los Angeles area, and after following divergent paths in recent years, they will converge once again, this time on the opposite coast.
Madeline Gobrecht, Chris’ youngest child, is currently a forward for Hamden Hall. Her high school training has paid off, making her a versatile forward with terrific awareness as a player, according to Chris. That talent, coupled with the coach’s experience and the Elis’ success so far this year, should give the Ivy League something to watch out for next season when Hamden Hall’s top scorer takes to the court. Chris ran down a long list of Madeline’s attributes as a player, including honors from the New Haven Register and selections to tournament all-star teams.
The Gobrechts immediately dispelled any notion that family conflicts might find their way onto the basketball court next year. On the court, the two see eye to eye, and each thinks the other will enrich their experiences at John J. Lee Amphitheater next year and enhance their mother-daughter relationship. It isn’t until the two are both on the sidelines that you can see some difference of opinion. Madeline said that despite her bustling social life, her mom is one of her closest friends. But her mother sees it differently.
“Madeline has such a large circle of friends that she doesn’t have much time for her mom,” Chris said. “Basketball is the primary thing we do together.”
Perhaps surprisingly, Madeline did not consider Yale to be an obvious choice. She decided to be an Eli only after determining that the other schools she was looking at simply did not measure up. She said she is excited about being part of the Yale community and, like any athlete, wants to win a conference crown.
Whereas Madeline said she has probably been on the court for as long as she could hold the ball, Williams said she picked up a basketball for the first time in fifth grade. As a soccer player at a new school, a classmate’s father heard she was already 5’8” and recruited her for the local rec team, causing her to abandon the goal in favor of the basket. It was the beginning of an impressive career that began with recruiting calls as early as eighth grade.
Williams, the 6’1” forward for her team at Hinsdale Central in suburban Chicago, is a versatile player. She has over 1,600 career points from this season at Hinsdale Central combined with three years at Westlake High in Westlake Village, Calif.
Williams has always had an interest in the Ivy League and is as excited about attending Yale as she is about being an Eli. She said Yale stands out because of its well-rounded students and its ingenious basement system — whereby students can get from bedroom to dining hall without setting foot outside — as well as its intellectual offerings.
“When my parents call and ask what I did today, I’ll love replying ‘Oh, I had tea with the president of China this afternoon’ or ‘I sat in on a chat with Condoleezza Rice,’” she said.
The two-time all-league player said her game-winning 10-point run with two minutes on the clock during the conference championship game of her sophomore year taught her that all things are possible. Williams’ optimism extends to the possibility of winning an Ancient Eight title for the Elis.
Greenfield, a point guard and the captain and sole senior on her team at Harvard-Westlake in Sherman Oaks, Calif., said her most cherished basketball moment came just last week, when her team clinched its league championship on senior night. Greenfield was recently nominated for the McDonald’s All-American team and was named league MVP. The Adidas All-American harbors a true love for the sport and is extremely excited about coming to Yale.
“When I play, I feel completely myself and like I belong on the court,” she said. “I love the adrenaline I have before games and looking forward to playing all day. The nerves [about next year] are just part of the excitement I’m feeling. I cannot wait!”.
Gobrecht said all three recruits will fit in well with the current Bulldog squad because they are easy to get along with. They will try to fill the large hole to be left by center Erica Davis ’07 and captain and forward Chinenye Okafor ’07, who will graduate this spring. Though it is hard to overlook the interest factor of having a mother-daughter team on the court, the more important contribution of the Class of 2011 will be the trio’s winning experience and their desire to succeed.