The women’s basketball team may call her “Little Sarah” because of her quiet nature, but in her first season at Yale, Sarah Halejian ’15 is already a big player for the Bulldogs. On Monday, Halejian received her fourth consecutive, and fifth total, Ivy League Rookie of the Week award. And if her successes on the court continue, Halejian may join the Armenian National Basketball Team this summer.
Growing up in New Jersey, Halejian said basketball was a way of life. She cannot recall when she started playing, but she credited her two older siblings for introducing her to the sport.
“I would always be out on the driveway playing basketball with them,” Halejian said. “It made me tougher. I got used to playing physically.”
By the time she reached high school, Halejian lead Ramapo High School in Franklin Lakes, N.J., in points, steals and assists each season and was a two-time New Jersey Player of the Year. She finished her high school career as Ramapo’s all-time leading scorer with 1,839 career points, averaging 19 points per game in her senior season.
Halejian’s impressive statistics have continued since arriving at Yale. She is the top scoring freshman in the League, averaging 13 points per game in conference. Her average is second only to junior guard Megan Vasquez ’13, who also received Ivy League recognition this week on the Honor Roll.
“Sarah is definitely a big spark on our team,” Vasquez said.
Captain Michelle Cashen ’12 described Halejian as a consistent performer who has become one of the team’s “go to players” over the course of the season.
Cashen added that one of Halejian’s best games this season was against Brown on Jan. 13. Halejian scored 18 points and lead the team to a 75-65 win over the Bears. This past weekend, Halejian took on a new role in defending the opposing teams’ best player, Vasquez said. Halejian limited the Harvard’s senior guard Brogan Berry to five points — more than seven points less than Berry’s 12.7 points per game conference average. The Elis took the game by five points, 68-63.
Halejian has a strong family fan base watching her success. She said every that at every home game at least 10 members of her family and Armenian friends are present.
And because of her Armenian heritage and talent, Halejian may have an opportunity to represent Armenian on its national basketball team this summer.
Hrachya Rostomyan, president of the Basketball Federation of Armenia, is “hopeful” that Halejian can join the national team this summer, according to a Jan. 9 article published on ESPN’s European Affiliate BallinEurope.com. He called her potential impact “invaluable to Armenia.”
Halejian said she first learned of the opportunity last summer when her older brother Eric, who played basketball at Ithaca College, played in the Pan-Armenian Games. However, her current focus is helping the Bulldogs win an Ivy League championship, she said.
“By the end of the season, I just want to be able to say I worked my very hardest all of the time,” Halejian said. “I’m just trying to contribute the most I can to the team and our success.”
Off the court, Halejian said she enjoyed volunteering at the soup kitchen with her team every Friday in the fall. She added that she hopes to establish an Armenian club with John Aroutiounian ’15 this spring.
Halejian, a Pierson College resident, has not declared a major, but said she is interested in psychology.
“She fits right in with our team chemistry,” Cashen said. “For being a freshman, she is having a big impact already.”
Halejian and the Bulldogs will continue their pursuit for the Ivy League Title at Penn this Friday.