The only senior on the team, Sarah Halejian ’15 was named captain for the 2014–15 season and the 37th captain in program history. She was named to the All-Ivy League First Team the past two seasons and 2011–12 Ivy League Rookie of the Year following her freshman campaign.
Entering this season with 1,047 career points — an average of 12.5 points per game — Halejian now stands 16th on the career scoring chart in program history. In her past three seasons at Yale, Halejian played in 84 games with 78 starts and is currently on a streak at 73 consecutive starts.
“We may only have one senior, but she’s a good one,” head coach Chris Gobrecht said.
Although Halejian said she usually does not set goals for herself to avoid unneeded pressure, she hopes to win the Ivy League Championship in her last season at Yale. The team has not won the championship once in the last three years Halejian has been with the Bulldogs.
An added pressure this year: The team expects Halejian to fulfill her role as a leader.
“With [being] captain comes a lot of responsibilities that I never had in the past,” Halejian said.
Among other things, Halejian realizes that she needs to be a leader both on and off the court. However, she mentions that the close-knit nature of the team will not make this a burden, adding that the freshmen this year have fit right in with the team and played well from the very beginning.
When asked about her growth as a team member in the past three years, Halejian noted her relationship with Gobrecht as the most transformative.
“In my freshman year, I was super quiet and it was hard for her to know what I was thinking,” Halejian said. “Now we have a completely open line of communication, which is really important for me as a captain.”
As for many other student athletes, adjusting to Yale freshman year proved difficult for Halejian. Now, Halejian believes that she has found the balance between a rigorous academic schedule and a hectic athletic regimen.
Halejian’s soft-spoken nature and ability to adjust to the rigors of Yale help her lead the Bulldogs.
“I would say she leads by example,” guard Nyasha Sarju ’16 said. “She can be soft-spoken but she puts the team first, and she sacrifices a lot in terms of her own personal gain just to get everybody involved. She brings so much [to the table].”
For instance, Halejian focuses on resting more during the week in anticipation for competition on the weekends.
Halejian attributes her competitive nature in basketball to playing with her siblings at a young age. Growing up with an older brother and an older sister, Halejian remembers consistently losing to her siblings while playing basketball on the driveway. In retrospect, those losses have molded her into the competitive player she is now.
“I owe a lot of my career to [my siblings],” Halejian said.
The Wyckoff, New Jersey, native said that studying at Yale has broadened her horizons.
Having grown up in a suburb that was not very diverse, Halejian said that she loves interacting with Yalies of all interests and backgrounds on a daily basis.
“We all [came to Yale] driven and motivated … but [Yale] has helped me become even more so,” said Halejian.
Looking ahead, Halejian hopes to go overseas for a year or so after Yale, but due to eligibility reasons she cannot begin the application process until after season. Ultimately, she aspires to find an agency and play professional basketball for a team. If Halejian is unable to play in the professional ranks, she said she still hopes to land a job in sports and work in a field that makes her happy.
When asked about her thoughts on the basketball team after she graduates, Halejian said that the team is definitely set up to be successful in the coming years. She especially accredits the coaches for their stacked recruiting year after year.
“I just think that our coaches know exactly how to recruit and who to recruit,” Halejian said. “I am impressed how well the coaches recruit and how well they sell Yale [to them].”
The women’s basketball team will play its first game against St. John’s on Nov. 15 at Yale.