Q and A with Menel Lamadzema, Mystic Valley’s hotshot scorer
By Julian Cardillo
Mystic Valley Regional Charter School’s girls’ basketball star Menel Lamadzema is a rare talent: in February, she became just the 71st person in Massachusetts history – boy or girl – to notch 2,000 career points. Lamadzema, who graduates in a few weeks and will move on to Endicott College in the fall, is proud to have had her friends and family by her side when she reached the milestone by scoring a three-pointer in a 59-51 victory over Shawsheen Tech.
The Advocate caught up with Menel to get her take on her accomplishment and what the future has in store.
The Advocate: What did it mean to you to hit the 2,000-point milestone in your senior year?
Menel Lamadzema: To hit 2,000 points in my senior year means more than words can describe. Ever since 5th grade, I talked about hitting my 1000th point, and that was my goal entering high school. But scoring 2,000 points never once crossed my mind until November of 2017, when I had friends, family, coaches and teammates all tell me that I have a very good chance of becoming the first 2,000 pointer scorer in Mystic Valley history. I started the season off very shaky as the thought of scoring 484 points in 20 games was stuck in the back of my mind. There were some games where I had my lowest scoring games ever. It didn’t really bother me that much, because regardless my team won, so I was very happy. As those low-scoring games continued for a week or two, the only thing on my mind was securing a tournament spot. But when we eventually secured our spot, I realized that I wasn’t far away from 2,000. I have never pushed myself more than I did in the second half of my senior season. I pushed myself to score more but was mainly focused on winning each game.
The Advocate: What was it like on the game that you hit it?
ML: On February 20, my senior night, I was 18 points away. The gym was packed: friends and family overfilling the bleachers, teammates hanging up posters and balloons for me. It was all surreal. To be surrounded by all these people only made it more special and sentimental. So 2,000 points means a lot to me, because of the support I have received throughout my high school career. My coach and teammates helped me to get to where I was, and it means so much that I got to break history at Mystic Valley.
The Advocate: How have you changed as a player throughout your time in high school?
ML: I started my varsity career as a shy little eighth-grader. I didn’t really have a voice then, but as the playoffs started, I heard my coach tell me to take a seat with the starters. I was extremely nervous and felt a little guilty because I, an eighth-grader, had just taken a senior’s spot in the starting lineup. But little did I know – that day changed everything. Every game after that I became more of a leader and more vocal. I began to push myself out of my comfort zone and push my teammates to do their best. I became more confident in my game throughout the years. I didn’t hold anything back; I left it all on the court and let everyone remember my name. All the choices I’ve made since eighth grade led to my achievements, and I met the goals I set 10 years ago. I not only became more confident in my game but my teammates’ game, too. Throughout high school they became my family, and I wouldn’t trade this family for the world.
The Advocate: Do you plan on playing at Endicott next year?
ML: Yes. I have committed to continue my basketball career at Endicott College, and I couldn’t be any happier with my commitment.
The Advocate: What do you plan on studying at Endicott? What are your future plans?
ML: I originally wanted to major in athletic training, but as time went on, I shifted my attention towards Neuroscience. Once I begin classes in the fall, I will change my major to Biology.
The Advocate: Who are some of your role models, in life and in basketball?
ML: My role models have always been my mom, grandma and trainer, Amanda McCarthy. All three women have pushed me to be the best I can be and to give nothing but 110% in the classroom and on the court. They have been my ride or die since day 1, and I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for them. In basketball I have always admired Kyrie Irving and have been influenced by his game. His speed, defense and quick release of the ball is what I admire the most. He is an all-around amazing player who helped shape my game.