For the first time since their inceptions in 1988 and 1989, respectively, a woman has won the both the free-throw and three-point shooting contests held each year at Einstein's Falk Recreation Center.
First-year medical student Monica Zell nailed 34 of 35 shots from the charity stripe and 20 of 25 from behind the three-point arc, demonstrating the impressive accuracy that makes her a desired teammate in intramural and pick-up basketball games.
"I was in a good rhythm," she said. "Once I knew I was making a bunch, I wanted to make more."
She added, "I wasn't always a good shooter. When I was recruited to play basketball at Oberlin College, I knew I needed to work on my shot. I had a two-handed set shot, and that just wouldn't do."
Having played in the forward slot during high school, her post-up spot near the basket didn't provide many opportunities to shoot from a distance. But, at just 5 foot 7, she sensed she might be playing guard more during college. She spent the summer learning a proper jump shot and improving her range and marksmanship.
Her efforts paid off; she became the only freshman starter on the team and set a school record for shooting percentage (43 percent) from three-point range.
In spite of this success, Ms. Zell opted to hang up her basketball sneakers the following season, wishing to devote more time to her studies. "As a pre-med student, I found the grueling schedule of college athletics took a toll on my studies. So, while it was a great season and a difficult decision, I realized there was more that I wanted to do."
She didn't pick up a basketball again until two years ago, playing pick-up games at the Falk Center gym.
"I had felt bad about quitting, so I didn't feel right about playing at Oberlin, even just for fun. And when I first got here, I was studying for the MCATs and adjusting to a new job, so I didn't play then." Before enrolling in Einstein, Ms. Zell worked for three years in the laboratory of Dr. Alberto Pereda, where her undergraduate degree in neuroscience came in quite handy.
This year was her second attempt at the shooting contests. "Last year, I came in second in the free-throw contest and did terribly with my three-pointers," she recalled.
She added, "It's really gratifying to be the first woman to win and to represent women on the court at Einstein."
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