Spaulding High senior Emily Benway was one of NH's top players from the Class of 2015, but because she played for a struggling high school team she didn't receive the same type of exposure and fanfare throughout the state as the other top players did.
Benway didn't let that discourage her, though. She just kept on working and in the end it paid off. Last month she was named a 2nd team all-state selection by the NHBCO and was picked to play in the Granite Games, which recognize the state's top senior players. She has also decided on a college for next year, as the 5-foot-10 wing forward has committed to Saint Joseph's College of Maine.
"My recruitment was stressful because I was stuck between going to a Division II school and a Division III school - Merrimack and Saint Joe's" Benway told the NH Notebook. "I chose Saint Joe's because I just felt like I would fit in very well there. I had watched a practice and had lunch with the team, it just felt right. The campus is great. I also received a very good financial aid package from Saint Joe's. Another big factor was that I want to be focused on school and also play basketball and have fun with it. Saint Joe's has my number one major which is Biology / Pre-physicians assistant, whereas Merrimack does not."
St. Joe's competes in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC). They made the semi-finals this year, and last season they won the conference. Benway should fit right in on their team. She has a good face-up game, with the ability to take her defender off the dribble with a quick first step. Benway is a beast on the boards on both ends of the floor, runs the floor well and is a strong finisher inside.
In addition to playing for a struggling high school team, Benway also suffered serious wrist injury. She worked hard to overcome this adversity in order to achieve her goals.
"Playing on a struggling high school program was stressful at times, but I had personal goals that I wanted to meet regardless the team circumstances" said Benway. "I have always made it my number one goal to play college basketball since I started playing and I knew that was going to happen. I was faced with a major injury junior season shattering my wrist in a game. People told me I'd never play basketball again and I was determined to prove people wrong (including doctors). It is a mix of hard work combined with a great AAU coach Dustin Freeman who pushed me to be the best I could be and was always 100% honest even if it wasn't what I wanted to hear, that would make me push myself even harder. He believed in me always telling me that I was a college player and I would be able to play in college, as well as my high school coach Karen Malsbenden. I do not feel I was underrated throughout the state because I was well known from all the coaches as a big threat regardless my teams standings. But being on the 'underdog' team motivated me to play my best and show the state who I was. That must have worked because I made second team all state and played in the senior all star game."
With Benway's commitment, this makes four Spaulding athletes from the Class of 2015 who will continue their careers at the college level at Saint Joe's. The others are Darian Berry (men's bestkabll), Brock Paquette (baseball) and Anthony Diprizio (football).
"I am very excited that we have four Spaulding students attending Saint Joe's and being student athletes" said Benway. "It is great that we are all playing different sports which is a great representation for Spaulding. It was more of a coincidence, I found out they had a physicians assistant major and decided to apply and contact their basketball coach. Hearing that other Spaulding student athletes would also be going to Saint Joe's was cool because I knew I'd see some familiar faces around campus."
Though Benway is sure to be an impact player for the women's basketball team at Saint Joe's, it is nice to see that she put just as much emphasis on academics when making her college decision.
"I plan on studying Biology / Pre-physician's Assistant at Saint Joe's" Benway concluded. "With this degree I will attend a two year Physician's Assistant program and then work in a hospital as a PA, possibly specializing in orthopedics."
Another local athlete with a good head on their shoulders who has worked hard on the court and off to reach the next level. Congratulation and best of luck to Emily Benway.