For the longest time, Dawson Blues’ Éléanore Marciszewski has dreamt of playing Division 1 basketball in the NCAA. Come fall 2018, she will be able to turn that dream into a reality at James Madison University in Virginia.
“From the very moment I started basketball, I told my dad that I wanted to play in the States at the college level,” said Éléanore. “With all the hours spent in the gym and all the sacrifices I’ve made, it’s an amazing feeling to see everything bear fruit.”
A dream several years in the making
Éléanore Marciszewski’s decision to commit to James Madison University (JMU) might be sudden news for some. However, it’s a goal she’s been working on for a long time. In fact, Éléanore first fell in love with basketball in the fourth grade. For most of her high school career, she played high-level basketball with École Secondaire de Mortagne and the Riverains of St-Jean, and even spent three summers representing Team Quebec.
Last fall, Éléanore joined the Dawson Blues and played a strong part in their impressive run to the CCAA Nationals Championship where they finished second. She also played with the Bluehounds, a summer team mainly composed of Dawson players, the past two summers. With the team, she played in several renowned tournaments, such as the USJN National Championship where she was noted as a standout prospect by Blue Star Media, and got the attention of several big-name schools such as JMU, Memphis and NC State.
A special player
When people watch Éléanore play, there are two aspects of her game that are immediately noticeable: her size, and her natural scoring ability.
“At 6’0 ft, she’s a bigger guard and she has deep [shooting] range,” said Farid Charles, the Assistant Coach for the Division 1 Women’s Basketball Team, about Éléanore. “She can definitely shoot the hell out of a basketball.”
However, despite Éléanore being a great shooter and having an impressive stature, Coach Charles believes it is her attitude that makes her stand out: “She is open to criticism, is always learning, and does the little things that coaches don’t always see. She also puts in extra work. She goes to the weight room on her own. If she’s not in the weight room, she’s on the court taking jump shots.”
Nelly Owusu, a Dawson Blues veteran who has played alongside Éléanore for the past year and a half, admires her mental toughness and her ability to “stay unbothered no matter what.” It is easy for players to get frustrated when things don’t go well, but “even if she is off, she won’t let that affect the whole team” said Nelly.
Blues’ teammate and close friend Sorelle Ineza believes that Éléanore’s work ethic is definitely a defining trait: “She worked really hard. She is the type of person who if she had a goal in her mind, she would do what she can to accomplish it. […] To get where she is today, she had to push herself in athletics, but also academically.”
With the amount of time dedicated to sports, most Dawson student-athletes decide to complete their CEGEP in three years. However, Éléanore, who is currently a General Social Science student, is doing her’s in two years.
“Even though it was really hard for me sometimes to manage basketball, school and have a minimum of social life, I knew that I was able to [finish school] in two years,” said Éléanore. “If I finish it in two years, I will be able to play in the States right away next year instead of waiting for the year after.”
Gratitude and farewells
Despite attracting much attention since her commit, Éléanore attributes a lot of her success to the people around her: “My number one fans are my parents who have helped me physically and mentally; they have always been there – my mom counts four games missed on her part […] All my coaches, good or bad, have all taught me something […] and my teammates, with whom I share good and bad moments, I love them and I wouldn’t be where I am right now without them. It’s all about the sisterhood.”
“I wish Éléanore the best and I hope she doesn’t let the negativity get to her,” said Nelly Owusu, before jokingly adding that she “hopes [Éléanore’s] English won’t affect her where she goes [chuckles].”
“I hope [Éléanore] stays true to herself, that she continues to believe in what she can do, and that she keeps loving basketball like she already does,” said Sorelle Ineza. “I know she will go far, and I will always have her back.”
The season ahead
Before she is able to pursue her basketball dream at James Madison University Éléanore still has a year left at Dawson. For her it’s the year her team will strike gold: “We have a great team spirit, and it showed when we finished second [at Nationals]. This year we will be number one.”
Coach Charles, as well the rest of the Blues staff, are on the same page as Éléanore as they “hope this season will end with a championship.”
The Blues’ Division 1 Women’s Basketball team begin their campaign on October 13 in a home opener against their longtime rivals the Cavaliers of Champlain St-Lambert. Tip-off is at 7 PM.
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