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Sarah Puzone has been on the basketball court throughout her life and is now leading the North Haven girls’ basketball team as a senior captain this winter. (Photo courtesy of Sarah Puzone )
From a young age, North Haven’s Sarah Puzone played basketball with her brothers on their family’s makeshift court. After learning the game on concrete, Sarah took those skills to the hardwood and became both a varsity starter and a senior captain for the North Haven girls’ basketball team.
Sarah’s older brothers, Alex and Andrew, both played basketball at Notre Dame-West Haven. Sarah always attended their games while playing as much as she could alongside her older sister Julia, who competed for North Haven. Between watching games and playing against older competition, Sarah learned a lot about basketball and grew as an athlete through her family.
“I always played with them my whole life. Even now, especially during quarantine when I couldn’t be with my team, we would always play. We have a half court at my house on the concrete,” Sarah says. “It definitely helped. Playing with my brothers, who are older and stronger than me, they always give me tips and are there to help me toughen up. They helped me be the best version of myself possible.”
When it came time for her to play, Sarah entered the North Haven town league in the 1st grade. She later joined the town’s travel team in 4th grade and started playing for North Haven Middle School as a 7th-grader. At one point, Sarah was playing rec, travel, and middle school basketball at the same time. With so much experience on the court, Sarah not only became a better basketball player, she also developed a tremendous passion for the sport.
“When you play that much, you either grow to love the sport even more or you realize that it’s not for you. Putting in that much time and effort, it really takes up a lot of your time,” says Sarah. “Basketball is a part of who I am. It’s a part of my life. It’s made me realize how much I love that sport. I can’t picture not growing up in basketball.”
Sarah knew that she was going to play basketball for North Haven when she started high school. Even with all of her experience, Sarah still found it to be a challenging transition and felt nervous competing against varsity athletes at first. However, Sarah felt that if she kept faith and stayed confident in herself, that she would ultimately succeed.
Halfway through her sophomore season, Sarah got the call and was named a starter for North Haven’s varsity squad. After working hard in preparation for that moment, Sarah felt ready to make the jump to the varsity level.
“I was really excited and happy. I was showing my progress and how much work I had been putting in. It was paying off,” Sarah says. “It was definitely something I was ready for. I had seen it. As I was watching through my siblings, I was ready for this challenge. It was definitely an increase in intensity, but I was craving it. I was ready.”
Now a senior, Sarah has seen her confidence rise considerably throughout her time at North Haven. Tom Blake, who became the team’s head coach last year, has also seen Sarah’s confidence grow. Blake says that Sarah, a shooting guard, is one of North Haven’s most pivotal players on both the offensive and defensive sides of the floor.
“Sarah has been my best defensive player for the past two years. She’s on the point of our press and many times get steals or causes the other team to throw the ball away,” says Blake. “On offense, she has consistently been one of our top scorers. She does a great job driving to the basket and getting fouled.”
As she entered her senior season, Sarah was named one of North Haven’s senior captains alongside Carly Fresher and Olivia Stefanik. Earning captaincy had been Sarah’s goal since she was a freshman, and she feels honored to be leading North Haven.
“It meant a lot for me. I know that being captain isn’t just a title. It’s really what comes with it,” Sarah says. “I want to motivate our team and boost our spirits, win or lose. I want to be that person that’s pushing us on and off the court, going for that extra sprint, touching the line, putting in 100-percent effort. Leading by example is a big one for me. It’s always been a passion for me. I’m grateful to be given the captain role.”
In terms of her post-graduation plans, Sarah has been in contact with several Division III coaches and is looking for the right opportunity to play basketball in college. Sarah wants to study either journalism or English in an effort to either pursue a career in either law or as a news anchor.
From the blacktop to the varsity lineup, Sarah’s life has revolved around the sport of basketball. As she finishes her senior season with North Haven, Sarah says that it’s much more than sport to her. Basketball has helped Sarah realize her potential and become the person she wants to be.
“Being a basketball player, it’s not even just a sport to me—it’s a part of who I am. A lot of times, I’ll be busy doing basketball, but it’s not just another task in my life—it’s something I look forward to,” says Sarah. “It brings me so much joy. It’s a huge part of my life, and it makes me so happy. It shaped me who I am today. I’m so grateful for it.”