Girls’ Varsity Basketball Moves to Prep Classification


Coach Art Thomas delivers the team with some inspiring words. Photo provided by the MacDuffie School.

Ana Teneud, Staff Writer

This year, the Girls’ Varsity Basketball team became Prep, moving up from class D to class AA in just a year. The Girls’ Basketball Coach, Art Thomas, explains this advancement happened because of extensive recruiting; with six new players this year and more coming next year. 

Playing in Division AA is a 3-year commitment that entails more extensive and demanding training, including strength and conditioning. Zeynep Goktepe, a returning student from last year’s varsity team, describes prep as “a whole different experience”. She remarks how training is harder this year since most girls on the team want to play professionally. She also mentioned that the team is playing against harder competition, with special attention to how some players can even dunk at this level. 

Another challenging aspect of this season will be that the team has not been playing together for long. “The biggest thing is going to be chemistry. Most girls come from a team where they were the best player. Now they need to come together to play,” says Coach Thomas.

The team will participate in two showcase events. The first one was the Nickerson Classic, played the weekend right after MacDuffie’s midterms. The second is Dexter Southfield, on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend. These showcases are tournaments held at central locations so college coaches can come to see them play. They’re of extreme importance to a team where most players aim to play Division 1 or Division 2 college basketball.

Last year’s varsity team played in class D due to enrollment, but better recruiting led to the change in division. Goktepe was key in this aspect, as she helped recruit three new players: Derin Tokcan, Defne Pekinbas, and Kameron St. Pierre. Zeynep has known former teammate Tokcan for five years, and childhood friend Pekinbas for eight. When she found out her two friends wanted to study in America through an agency, she immediately offered to help them and make applying easier with no need for an agency. And when she found out Coach Thomas was trying to recruit Kameron, she got back in touch with her, since the two had been roommates in an AAU tournament this summer, to finish convincing her.