Sarnia hoops star headed to Vermont

Lauren Handy signs a Letter of Intent to attend the University of Vermont next season on a basketball scholarship. With her are long-time coach John Thrasher, left, and proud dad Rick. Barry Wright

Barry Wright

One of Sarnia’s premier women athletes is heading to the University of Vermont on a Division 1 basketball scholarship.

Lauren Handy, 17, will begin her academic and athletic career with the Catamounts next September, but will head east in late spring and take some summer courses prior to the rigors of the college basketball season.

In the meantime, she will close out her high school career when Northern Collegiate competes at the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) “AAA” Basketball Tournament in Windsor this weekend.

The 6”2′ hybrid player says she was drawn to the Burlington, Vermont-based school, near the Quebec border, because of its “hints of home.”

She cited the small-town atmosphere, proximity to water and the fact two of the basketball coaches, including the head coach, are Canadian.

Montreal-born Lori Gear McBride has the distinction of being the only Canadian head coach in major college women’s basketball is the U.S. Courtney Pilypaitis of the Ottawa region is one of her assistants.

“They said I have a very good chance of possibly starting,” Handy said of conversations with the coaching staff about her rookie playing time.

“They did say, as a freshman, I am going to have a big role, which is awesome,” she added.

The personable teen named long-time Vikings coach John Thrasher and Sarnia’s Kendel Ross, currently playing professional basketball in Spain, as people who have played big roles in shaping her, on and off the court.

She noted an unprecedented “comfort level” with Thrasher and called Ross, whom she trained with this summer, “a great role model.”

Thrasher said Handy will need to continue to improve her game to succeed at the post-secondary level, noting the intensity level is “light years different” than high school hoops.

Handy agrees and is approaching her newest challenge with her eyes wide open.

“The pace is quicker. Everyone is bigger. Everyone is stronger,” she said.  “Everyone takes the game a lot more seriously.”