March 6, 2014

More To Life Than Basketball

By Emily Correia
Special to GoHolyCross.com

A three-time first team All-Patriot League selection, senior captain Alex Smith (Delran, N.J.) is the only Holy Cross player to have tallied over 1,600 points, 400 rebounds and 500 assists during her career. On Jan. 19, 2013 Smith netted her 1000th point, becoming the 76th player, 29th women's basketball player and 11th player to reach the mark as a junior or sooner at Holy Cross. As a senior on Dec. 18, 2013, Smith came out with a school-record 27-point first half performance and during the contest netted six three-pointers for the third time in her career, a statistic that is tied for fourth in school history. Her fifth three-pointer of the game was the 287th of her career, breaking the Patriot League record for the most three-point baskets in a career, previously at 286. Smith is not only a force on the court, but she takes that success and applies it to every aspect of her life. She lives by the idea that her family instilled in her at a young age that while basketball is really important, "There is more to life than basketball."

Despite the numerous awards and the record-breaking seasons at Holy Cross, Smith believes that her proudest moment would be being nominated for the Senior CLASS award. This year, Smith was nominated as one of 30 candidates for the prestigious award. The Senior CLASS award recognizes NCAA student-athletes who have notable achievements in four areas of excellence – community, classroom, character and competition. "I've always been taught that there's more to life than basketball," Smith reiterated. "This award is about basketball, but also about everything else in life too. Coach Gibbons has always stressed that we are women for others and that's what this award is all about."  In addition to basketball and community outreach, Smith holds a 3.36 GPA with her psychology major and deaf studies minor. She has also been a three-year member of the Holy Cross Leadership Academy and was named to the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll. Through her talent on the court and her caring for both her basketball family and the community as a whole, Smith has demonstrated that she is what the award represents.

With the team, Smith visits the Mercy Center, which is a local recreational facility for people with special needs in the Worcester community, and every year the team plays a game of basketball against the members of the center. Additionally, Smith and the basketball team raise money and walk in the annual UMass Walk to Cure Cancer. "The HCWBB program prides itself on being women for others and being active in the community," Smith said. "Therefore, the dedication we have to the Worcester Community has influenced me to be more active in community service and helping those in need. There is so much more to life then basketball and we have to remember to give back. We have the privilege to attend one of the most renowned colleges in the country and we must use our resources to improve the community."

"The best thing I've learned at Holy Cross is hard work pays off," she recalled. "I've worked so hard throughout my career to be the best basketball player I could be and it has afforded me an amazing career here." Smith has left her mark on the program and will be a part of the history of Holy Cross women's basketball, but the imprint on Smith is bigger. Her dedication to becoming the best she can be at everything she does has been fostered by the program. Smith also reflected that she has learned much about community outreach from the program. Smith is studying for a minor in deaf studies to complement her psychology major at Holy Cross and spends her own time outside of school and basketball with people who are hearing impaired. Smith spent two hours every Friday playing basketball and other games with the students from Worcester Public Schools who came to spend time on campus with her. Smith is the coordinator of the Holy Cross participation in Team Impact, an organization that matches college sports teams with individuals with disabilities. This summer, Smith spent her time working as a summer youth volunteer coordinator with the United Way in Worcester. She coordinated 13 volunteer events with over 40 Worcester youths between the ages of 13 and 17.

Smith entered Holy Cross after a four-year tenure on the Peddie School's varsity basketball team, a program that had won 14 consecutive New Jersey state titles and 12 straight Mid-Atlantic Prep League championships. Smith was no stranger to successful programs and learned quickly that Holy Cross would afford her the same opportunities for success. "As a freshman I heard so much about the all-time great players at Holy Cross, Anna Kinne, Brittany Keil, Brianna McFadden, and so many more, and now to be one of them feels amazing," Smith reflected about the success in her career thus far. "It feels incredible to have had such an amazing career here at Holy Cross. Holy Cross is an unbelievable program and I have learned so much about myself throughout my years here and to leave my own unique legacy here feels great."

Smith proved herself right away as she only missed one game in her first two years on the team, and started in 61 of her 63 games played. She came out as a freshman finishing with 321 points, 98 assists, 44 steals and league-leading 82 three-point field goals, which caught the attention of the league and the coaches and earned her a spot on the Patriot League All-Rookie team as well as the Preseason All-Patriot League team for the next season. Smith did not disappoint as a sophomore earning first team All-Patriot League honors and netting a conference-high 85 three-pointers. Smith started in all of the team's 34 games during the season, recorded 424 points and led the team with a league-best 187 assists. The team advanced to the Patriot League finals, where Smith netted 12 points and earned her spot on the Patriot League All-Tournament team. For a second year in a row, Smith's performance in the previous season earned her a spot on the Preseason All-Patriot League team. "The first two years I was still an underclassmen and had a lot to learn," Smith remembered. "I learned a lot from our senior captains my freshman and sophomore year, what I liked and did not like and how I wanted to lead the team myself."

As a junior, the coaching staff dubbed Smith with the high honor of captainship. With her success and work ethic in the previous two years, the "C" was well earned for the junior. That season brought even more success to Smith. She put up a league-leading 463 points and her 93 three-pointers made led the league by 24. "As a junior and senior captain I have a little bit more pressure to make decisions and lead the team," Smith remembered. "But I had amazing co-captains the past two years to help me, Amy Lepley my junior year and Christine Ganser (Needham, Mass.) my senior year." Smith earned first-team All-Patriot League, Academic All-Patriot League and All-Tournament team nods for the second season in a row and then went on to be named to the Preseason All-Patriot League team for her senior season. In her career she has made six three-pointers on three separate games, one of only two players in school history to connect on six or more during a single game on multiple occasions. She holds the school's top three records for the most three-pointers attempted in a season (250, 229, and 218) and the record for the most minutes played in a single season (1199). Her 29 double-figure scoring games in 2012-2013 are the third most at the school.

Smith hopes that she is remembered for more than just her successes on the court. "I hope everyone in the program remembers me as a friend and a member of the HCWBB family," she stated. Smith wants to be remembered as, "Someone who has helped them in one way or another. I hope to have inspired fans and other little girls to work hard at basketball and follow their dreams."

This story appears in the 2014 Patriot League Tournament program, which will be available for purchase at host sites for both the men and women's basketball tournaments.