WYCKOFF, N.J. — Women’s basketball player Sarah Halejian has dominated the courts on three continents during her basketball career and plans to take her game to her hometown this summer.
A point guard for the Toulouse Metropole (France) professional women’s basketball team, Sarah returned to Wyckoff in March when the team suspended play due to the global pandemic.
“We were in the middle of the season and after 10 days of suspended games it made sense to come home before travel was restricted,” said Sarah.
Instead of sitting on the bench, Sarah decided to create a training and conditioning program for young athletes, including players from the Ramapo and Indian Hills girls’ basketball teams.
“We have had virtual workouts from my driveway and their driveways,” said Sarah.“I have conducted ball handling drills, shooting drills, friendly competitions, and conditioning circuits.”
As restrictions are lifted, Sarah would like to move the training program to a gymnasium or local park.
For now, Sarah is using home-court advantage and the place her love for the game began.
“I was 3 years old and watched my sister Alexis play basketball in the driveway and wanted to join in,” said Sarah. “My parents Barry and Andrea set up a Little Tykes basketball court for my brother and me in our basement.”
Her first team experience was with Wyckoff Travel Basketball. Sarah also played on AAU teams Bergen Bronze, Rockland Rockets, and Ring City.
The 5’ 8” point guard played four years on the varsity girls’ basketball team and four years on the girls varsity soccer team at Ramapo High School.
“I have both the Ramapo soccer and basketball coaching staffs to thank for all of my success in high school and beyond, as well as every one of my coaches I had growing up,” said Sarah “Playing for Ramapo was an irreplaceable experience in my life not just because of our successes but mainly because of the unforgettable memories and lasting friendships I made during that time.”
Sarah was named North Jersey Player of the Year as a sophomore and as a junior and led the Raiders to a pair of Bergen County championships. She became Ramapo’s all-time leading scorer during her senior year in 2011, with 1,843 points. All of those achievements earned her a place on the All-Decade first team.
Her accomplished academic and notable basketball skills earned her enrollment at Yale University.
At Yale, she was Ivy League Rookie of the Year and was twice named to the All-Ivy First Team. She averaged 8.1, 13.8 and 15.5 points per game as a freshman, sophomore and junior, respectively.
Sarah was named captain of the team during her senior year, but her season was interrupted by a torn ACL injury. She averaged 14.9 points before the injury.
After graduating Yale in 2015 with a degree in psychology, Sarah crossed the pond to continue her education and play basketball at the University of Edinburgh.
“I was able to earn a graduate degree in sports management and after rehabilitation [was] able to play basketball again,” said Sarah.
Sarah decided to play professional women’s basketball in Europe and joined Switzerland’s BC Winterthur, near Zurich, in 2016-17. She was the team’s top scorer. Following a brief stint in Belgium she returned to Switzerland for the second half of the 2017-2018 season to play for BBC Troistorrents, a team located in the Alps near Geneva.
Eager to experience basketball and life in a new continent, in 2019 Sarah played for Casey Basketball in Southeast Melbourne. She then went straight from Australia to Toulouse to commence her season in France.
“I didn’t know anyone when I went to Europe or Australia and the families of my teammates welcomed me,” said Sarah. “I have an amazing network of friendships in many countries and enjoyed the experiences that travel provides.”
Today Sarah is keeping up on her skills by playing driveway “one on one” with her brother Eric.
“I give Eric the credit for how I model my game,” said Sarah. “He plays hard and he taught me those skills.”
Sarah is currently “basking in the glory” of beating him.
“It’s only the third time in my life,” laughs Sarah.
Sarah is deciding if she will continue with professional basketball or pivot to a career in marketing.
Her message to young athletes…be a student-athlete.
“I credit her parents with instilling in me this balance between academics and athletics and providing me with the proper nurturing to succeed both in the classroom and on the court,” said Sarah.
This is an unedited user writing submission. The views, information, or opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Best Version Media or its employees.