HB grad leaving Lasell in style

When Katie Stopera left Hollis for New Haven, Conn., four years ago softball was the only thing on her mind.

Unsure of what she wanted to be when she grew up, Stopera’s main focus when choosing a college was sports and what school would give her the best package to wear its uniform. So much has changed for the 2012 Hollis Brookline High School graduate.

Despite a great start to her collegiate playing career at Southern Connecticut State University, Stopera realized the major she was interested in wasn’t offered at the school. That’s why this May she’ll be graduating from Lasell College in Auburndale, Mass., with a degree in Fashion and Retail Merchandising and an internship lined up at Puma headquarters in the heart of Boston.

"I loved my first year at Southern Connecticut," Stopera said. "I made so many friends. I got a chance to play basketball as a freshman. It was an amazing experience.

"I hadn’t really thought about what I wanted to do for a major until I was there. Coming out of high school it was just about playing basketball. As far as school went, I was just looking at a business degree there and wanted to go into fashion. That’s when I found Lasell and they had the degree I was looking for."

A lot has happened to Stopera in the four years between New Haven and Auburndale, a village in the city of Newton, Mass.

Her freshman year at SCSU was a good one. She logged quality minutes (26.5 per game) on the Owls women’s basketball team – appearing in all 25 games (15 starts) while averaging seven points and 2.3 rebounds per game and finishing second on the team in 3-pointers with 25.

Transferring to Lasell didn’t hinder the guard’s performance on the court. Stopera started all 77 games in three years with the Lasers, averaging 16.4 points over 33.4 minutes per game in three seasons.

Stopera finished the 2015-16 season, her senior year, with 479 points – her highest total during a three-year stint at Lasell, a season in which her name was entered into the program’s history books.

"It’s sad that it’s almost over," the Lasers tri-captain said, "but it’s been such a special part of my life. And this last year has been so amazing."

On Dec. 12, Stopera became the fifth Lasell women’s basketball
player to reach the 1,000-point milestone with a game-high 21 points in a 64-33 victory over Mount Holyoke College.

She would turn that milestone into a team record with 50 seconds remaining in the Lasers’ 77-58 Senior Day victory over Saint Joseph’s of Connecticut. Stopera scored a game-high 30 points in the win to become the program’s all-time leading scorer, surpassing Courtney Casserly’s previous mark of 1,244.

Surprisingly, Stopera’s coach, Todd Montana, pulled her aside during the win over St. Joe’s.

"I was kind of confused," she said referring to her coach’s directive. "My coach pulled me aside and said, ‘I’ve never said this to any player, and I’m probably never going to say it again – be selfish.’

"I didn’t realize I was so close to the all-time mark. I guess he knew and wanted me to get it that game. My teammates kept setting me up and I was hitting my shots."

She pushed her career total to 1,265 points following a team-high 18 points in the Lasers’ 76-57 Great Northeast Athletic Conference quarterfinals loss at Johnson and Wales in Providence, R.I.

At the season’s conclusion, Stopera was tied with Rivier University junior guard Caitlyn Perry, of Nashua (Nashua South), for first in the conference with an average of 18.4 points per game to earn GNAC Second Team honors.

Now it’s off to the business world, where Stopera hopes to succeed in fashion like she did on the court.

"I reached 1,000 points in high school and in college, but it’s been more than just basketball for me," Stopera said. "I’ve been so lucky. Some people choose college just for a sport, and they don’t worry about what they’re majoring in. Then down the road, when their playing days are done, they aren’t really happy with what they earned a degree in or the jobs they get.

"I was lucky to find Lasell. I got to play basketball and work toward the career I want, and I’ve been successful in both."

NOTES

– Sophomore third baseman Abrie Davis, of Amherst, and senior center fielder/infielder Nicole Abreu, of Hudson, are key contributors for the Plymouth State University softball team (7-9).

Davis is hitting .244 with one home run, four RBIs and four runs scored in 13 games this spring, while Abreu has a .333 batting average.

– Widener University senior midfielder Marc LaVine, of Nashua (Nashua North), has 13 points (four goals, nine assists) through seven games this spring. The Pride captain has started five of those games.

– Hannah More, of Nashua (Proctor Academy), is 12-4 in singles action for Hobart and William Smith Colleges from September through her most recent win April 2 at SUNY Oneonta.

The College Journal is a regular feature in The Telegraph. If you know of a college athlete from Greater Nashua that should be recognized, email sports@nashuatelegraph.com.