Amalbert reflects on time at the university
Ben Martin – Contributor
Owls guard Zoe Amalbert, a senior, recalled their matchup against Stonehill in the Northeast 10 conference semi-finals last season. The game came down to the wire, with the Owls down by one with just over two minutes left.
However, the team would lose after Stonehill made two free throws to add two points causing the owls to drop the game 59-56, although Amalbert had a game-high 17 points. Along with that, she added four assists, five rebounds and six steals.
“It showed us that we were capable of getting to that championship,” Amalbert said. “We had the skill and we had the pieces.”
The Owls goal this season is to get back to that point and even go beyond it by winning the Northeast 10 conference championship and making the NCAA tournament, Amalbert said.
Although Amalbert fondly remembers that playoff matchup with now division one Stonehill, her college basketball career did not start with Southern. Amalbert got her to start at a fellow division two program, The New York Institute of Technology.
In her freshman season there, Amalbert would help her squad win the East Coast Conference (ECC) championship.
“That taught me that I know I what it takes to win a championship,” Amalbert said.
Although the program captured a championship, two years later, they would fold due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as financial constraints. That caused Amalbert to seek a new school with an athletics program.
Along with wanting an athletics program, Amalbert knew she wanted to major in nursing, which is something most athletic programs do not allow their student athletes to do. However, Owls head coach Kate Lynch was able to provide that for Amalbert.
“I always encourage our student athletes do whatever major you want to do,” Lynch said. “You’re hear to be a student first, student athlete, we want them to have a great experience on the court, but we also want them to graduate with the degree they want to be in.”
Since coming to Southern, Amalbert has to balance both of these rigorous commitments; however, time management skills she has learned through growing up with the sport of basketball help her in that process.
“I use basketball as my outlet,” Amalbert said. “It is something I love to do and its fun for me.”
Amalbert added that she gets excited to practice and spend time with the team after long days of work in the nursing program.
Coming into the season, the Owls lost three older players to graduation in guards Megan Bianchi and Trish Conroy, as well as now European league player forward Jessica Fressle, which opened the door for Amalbert to more of a leadership role for this years team. Amalbert was named a team captain; however, she sees the role as just an extension of her responsibilities last season.
“It’s just more so knowing how to be a leader and get things done when we need things done,” Amalbert said adding that “teaching the incoming freshman the new offense and making sure they are ok when we are going through new drills,” is an added responsibility.
One of the younger players that Amalbert has been able to teach, is junior Jillian Martin, guard. The guards matchup everyday in practices and Martin credits that to her improvement.
“She taught me how to be a great defender, because she is so quick,” Martin said.
Although Amalbert taught Martin defensive skills, she has taught her understudy more skills than just that.
“You want to watch Zoe, and it just helps you perform better,” Martin said. “She is a good person to learn from because she has so much experience.”
Amalbert and Martin have gone from guarding each other in practice to offseason training buddies. We both push each other to the limit every day at practice Martin said.
Along with teaching Martin, having Zoe as an on the court teacher is something that helps coach lynch out as well.
“For me our point guards have always been an extension of myself on the court,” Lynch said. “I can be there in practice, I can stop practice, I can blow the whistle, I can teach it as I go, but as a point guard your job is to be the coach out there.”
Through playing five years of basketball, Amalbert has gained a plethora of experiences and skills to advise the younger players, but her favorite advice is a quote that guides her every day.
“My favorite quote is anything is possible if you believe, and I have always stuck by that,” Amalbert said. “Continue to work hard and believe in yourself, never give up on yourself and if you stay consistent and believe in yourself, you will reach your goals.”