The 2013-2014 season hasn't started yet, but the Saint Anselm College women's basketball team has already received commitments from two local recruits. A couple weeks ago it was 5-foot-5 combo guard Clairee Putnam from nearby Windham High who committed to the Hawks, and now joining Putnam at St. A's will be Bedford High's Ali Glennon. Putnam and Glennon have played together for the past 4 years on the AAU circuit with the NE Crusaders.
Glennon has been one of the top rated prospects from NH since her freshman year. The potential was obvious right away, as a 5'10/5'11 kid with the size of a big and the quickness and skill of a guard. Her path to committing to play D-II college ball didn't come without adversity though. Last winter as a junior Glennon helped lead Bedford to the D-I title game vs. Bishop Guertin. But with just over 5 minutes left Glennon suffered a knee injury and had to watch the rest of the game from the bench.
"I ended up having a near complete tear in PCL" Glennon told the NH Notebook. "My knee is doing great right now, I am just focusing on strengthening the muscles around it. I will be wearing my knee brace for this high school season but after that I won't need it anymore. I wasn't fully recovered from the knee injury until early July. Watching the end of the championship game on the bench was one of the hardest things ever, all I wanted to do is go back out there and help my team out. I kept trying to run on my knee on the sideline so I could go back in but I couldn't physically run. My knee felt like it was going to pop out. In the end it all worked and that definitely made up for it."
Glennon's coaches rave about how she has developed as a player, both on and off the court.
"From freshman year to now she has developed tremendously, but more so as a leader" said Bedford head coach Sue Thomas. "She got voted team captain, it's been great to watch her mature. She came in as a freshman as a lanky kid, but has really developed into a 3 for us. She can handle the ball well, she's our best defender right now and she has also improved her shot a lot. She's going to have a great year for us, but then I'll miss her a lot."
"Ali is a real complete ball player" said Mike Collins, who coached Glennon with the Crusaders. "Defensively, she is as good as it gets and her off-the-court leadership is exceptional. St. A's is getting a really good player from their own backyard. I've been saying for years - that unlike a lot of kids that peak during high school - Ali is the type of player who will play her best ball as a senior in college. She's got a 6'1" wingspan and big hands. Offensively, she is working on being more assertive, but the skills are there. During the HS and AAU seasons, we use Ali as our shutdown for a perimeter player. The best players in NH are usually the guards, and if you take them out of the game, teams really struggle. Ali is just a super happy, upbeat personality, and the b-ball season going through the dead of winter can be hard. A great player. Very unselfish. Great leadership. Shut-down defender. A sleeper."
One of the things that both Coach Thomas and Coach Collins mentioned about Glennon was her outstanding leadership ability.
"I learned a lot regarding leadership from the captains my freshman and sophomore year and also all the coaches I have had" explained Glennon. "As an underclassman I really looked up to the upperclassman. Also, I learned a lot from my teammates from being so close to them. I learned what they want and need, on and off the court to be happy and have the best possible experience. I learned during our first game against Central last year when everything went as bad as it could've gone for a first game that we needed someone on the team to keep spirits high and keep everything positive. After that game I realized that it was my responsibility to keep everyone positive and to cheer up the team when things aren't doing great. I knew that I needed to become a vocal leader on the court keep everyone on the same page and let them know that its fine if you turn the ball over or air ball a shot, just focus on the next play its not the end of the world."
Clearly Glennon is a player with a great attitude. Surely though it helps one to feel more comfortable when playing on a team with a group of kids that all grew up playing together. That is the case for Glennon and her Bedford teammates. Their D-I championship was no shocker, as they were led by a Glennon, Rachel Collins, Haley Driscoll, McKenzie Brown and Caroline Conrad. All 5 of them were juniors, and they form a class that's as talented as any NH has seen in recent years.
"McKenzie, Rachel, Caroline, Haley and I all started playing together on our 4th grade travel team" said Glennon. "We continued to all play on travel and the school teams together. At some points we all played AAU together also. The five of us get along great, we have all become such great friends. I can't remember a time in knowing them when we have ever gotten in a fight or not liked each other. I love them all so much and I wouldn't have wanted to go through my basketball career with anyone else. Its really sad that this will be our last year playing together. I think once we were in middle school we knew we could have a very special high school, that was when we began to play against players we would end up seeing again in high school. I think our parents and coaches knew even before middle school that we could have a pretty good team in high school but I think it was difficult for us as players back then to translate our games to the high school level. It will be even harder than last year for us to repeat. We will have to stay focused every game and work hard in practice. It will be very important for us to stay healthy and take care of our bodies."
Glennon (and Putnam) will play for a Saint Anselm's program that is part of the highly competitive Northeast-10 Conference. Julie Plant was hired in June to be the Hawks new head coach, after coming over from D-III Regis College where she went a perfect 36-0 in league play during her final 2 seasons there.
"It's hard to just pick one thing that made me want to play for St. A's the most it was the whole picture that really made me want to go there" Glennon pointed out. "I really liked the coaches, Coach Plant and Coach Shannon are great. I liked how honest they are and I really think they will do great things with St. A's basketball. I also really liked the players on the team and I could see myself being friends with them. Obviously, Clairee played a role in my decision to because I think whether you like the team or not plays a huge role in your decision because the players on your team are going to be your best friends in college. Clairee and I got the opportunity to become really good friends through AAU, we played 4 years together. I think it will be very helpful having a friend going into college, going through the same things you are. It will make the transition easier for both us. My final three college choices were Saint Anselms, Southern New Hampshire University and Saint Michaels College. Its funny because I never wanted to go to college close to home and 2 of my final 3 choices were a 30 minute drive from my house. As I talked to more and more people including players, I learned that being close to home is actually a good thing. Many of the players I talked to wished they were closer. I knew I wanted to play in the NE-10, its a great conference and I thought that it would be the best fit. The biggest reason I picked St. A's over the other schools is the academics. I thought that St. A's was the best academic fit for me."
Glennon will look to bring not only her great attitude but also her versatility and defensive ability to the table when she joins the team at St. A's next fall.
"I consider myself as a guard (2/3) but if the team needs me to play big or even point I can do it" said the unselfish Glennon. "Over the past few years I would say I have been a very defensive minded player. I am working on my offense mentality, I always used think pass then drive then shoot now I am focusing on drive, shoot then pass. I have been working on this for awhile now but I am beginning to see big improvements. I see my role on St. A's team to be anything they need on that given day. I am willing to do whatever they need me to do for them to win. They currently have 8 seniors on their team so I need to be ready to step up."
It's clear that Coach Plant has made it a point to recruit locally since taking over. And with Glennon and Putnam the Hawks are getting a pair of great players and great kids who should be significant parts of her program over the next few years.