Saturday, May 08, 2021

Sports Person of the Week

LeMere Comes Back Home to Coach the Thunderbirds

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Sabrina LeMere is assuming the mantle as head coach for the North Branford girls’ basketball team this season. Sabrina graduated from North Branford five years ago as the Thunderbirds’ all-time scoring leader. Photo courtesy of Sabrina LeMere

Sabrina LeMere is assuming the mantle as head coach for the North Branford girls’ basketball team this season. Sabrina graduated from North Branford five years ago as the Thunderbirds’ all-time scoring leader. (Photo courtesy of Sabrina LeMere )

In 2016, Sabrina LeMere graduated from North Branford High School as the girls’ basketball team’s all-time leader scorer. Following a successful stint at Eastern Connecticut State University (ECSU), Sabrina is returning to her hometown as the Thunderbirds’ new head coach.

Sabrina first heard about the job from family friend Russ Senerchia, who is the father of North Branford junior guard Hanna Senerchia. Sabrina decided to apply and interviewed with Athletic Director Lori Connelly, for whom she played when she was a member of the T-Birds’ field hockey squad. Sabrina was hired as the new head coach of North Branford girls’ hoops and feels excited about living one of her childhood dreams.

“I’m very excited. I always thought about it when I was younger,” says Sabrina, a North Branford resident. “I had a great time playing at the high school level. I’m very surprised and shocked and excited all together that it actually came true.”

Sabrina was a three-sport athlete at North Branford who competed for the T-Birds’ field hockey, girls’ basketball, and softball teams. On the basketball court, Sabrina improved her scoring every season and finished her career with a program record total of 1,398 points.

“I had a great high school career. I played under a lot of great coaches in high school. They taught me how to become a leader at a young age. It was amazing,” Sabrina says. “Having the opportunity to break the school record in high school was awesome. Being able to take all the things that I learned from that school and turn it into a college career is even more awesome. North Branford was good to me. It was a special time.”

In addition to her scoring ability, Sabrina was also named a captain for North Branford’s girls’ basketball and field hockey teams in her senior year. Sabrina felt that she had to take it a higher level upon receiving that distinction and wanted to be a role model for the younger players entering the program. Now a coach, Sabrina is looking to pass on the lessons that she learned as a captain to her athletes.

After graduating from North Branford, Sabrina moved on to play basketball and softball at ECSU. Sabrina started for the women’s basketball team during both her sophomore and junior seasons. For her career, she played in 112 games, starting 50 of them, while scoring 701 total points. Sabrina graduated last May and then went on to get a job a middle school physical education and health teacher at Capital Prep Magnet School in Hartford.

“College basketball was fun. It was intense. It was definitely a switch from high school. I made some of my best friends playing that sport. I learned a lot of different life lessons,” says Sabrina. “There were some hard times, there were some great times. I appreciate being a part of that team. It taught me how I want to coach during my career.”

From a young age, Sabrina’s parents, Chris and Melinda, encouraged her to become an athlete. Sabrina’s dad played sports in high school and always wanted her to get involved. On the heels of successful careers in both high school and college, Sabrina is looking forward to using her passion for athletics in a coaching capacity.

“In high school, I was a three-sport athlete. In college, I was a two-sport athlete. I’ve always been very involved in sports. It has always been my passion,” Sabrina says. “In high school and in college, I always knew eventually I wanted to coach. Being able to coach now is going to make me better, and my experiences are going to make me better. I’ve always wanted to coach since I was young.”

Sabrina’s coaching career got underway when North Branford held its first practice of the year last week. She says that her first week on the job went well and that all the girls are excited to have a season. Sabrina had previously played for her assistant coach Steve Saunders as a member of the Connecticut Cobras AAU team and likes the fact that they have similar coaching styles. As she gets ready for her first season as the T-Birds’ head coach, Sabrina wants to instill a hard-nosed style of basketball in which her athletes give a 100-percent effort 100 percent of the time.

“The main thing I’m trying to promote, and it was my gameplay when I was playing, is that high-energy, 100-percent effort, hustle all the time. That’s my main focus. That’s what I want to see from my girls,” Sabrina says. “They know that already, even through the first couple days of practice. That’s how you’re going to set the tone of a good season and a good quality team.”

Sabrina says that sports set the tone for her path in life by helping her grow as both a competitor and a leader. As she returns to North Branford as a coach, Sabrina is hoping to see similar growth from her players during her debut campaign.

“My main focus no matter what is the girls. I want them to have fun. I want them to enjoy the sport, and I want them to have a competitive drive,” says Sabrina. “I just want to make sure that this season, the girls come out of every game feeling like they did everything that they could in that game. It’s about the passion, the effort, and them developing as people and players, knowing they put that 100-percent effort into it.”


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