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Northrop junior pushes herself on, off court

– On the court and in the classroom, Northrop junior Aleah Swary is always up for a challenge.

In a pivotal year for a high school student and a potential college basketball player, Swary is making it matter.

“Basketball itself has made me a better person because of the attitude that you have to carry when you are on the floor,” she said.

As one of the top players in the SAC, Swary leads the Bruins in almost every statistical category including scoring (16.2), rebounds (8.6), field goal percentage (44.3), free-throw percentage (67.3) – and effort.

“She can do a lot,” first-year Northrop coach Andy Wyss said. “She’s our best player and in practice, she’s our hardest worker.

“She lives for basketball. She has played so much that she continues to make better and better decisions. She understands the game very well.”

This while taking advanced and honors courses at Northrop.

“Academically, she challenges herself with her class load,” Wyss said. “She is really pushing herself this year. People always say the junior year is the toughest, and it is.”

And so, books and basketball go hand-in-hand for the 5-foot-10 forward.

“It is a lot of work, but it really does translate to basketball because you could easily just give up and not study,” she said. “Basketball is kind of my getaway from all that, but at the same time it helps me to not give up on my homework and motivates more to get better academically and on the court as well.”

A three-year standout for Northrop, Swary said she is finally beginning to come into her own.

“I came in as a freshman really inexperienced,” Swary said. “I have grown a lot smarter the past couple of years. As a freshman, you are young and immature, and you think you know everything. I have learned a lot, just more basketball IQ has come to me.

“This year is my most improved. My mentality has improved more than it has in the last few years.”

Hoops, as well as grades, will one day lead Swary to college.

“I am keeping my options open, but I definitely want to play Division I basketball,” Swary said.

Wyss said Swary has received offers from St. Bonaventure and Central Michigan.

“They are going to continue to come because she is so multifaceted,” Wyss said. “As I look to her in the future, she is going to be able to play at a high level in college.”

About the only thing that has eluded the three-time first-team All-SAC player on the court is success.

Northrop, 6-13, 2-5 SAC this year, is 27-34 in three years.

“I work hard, and I am determined to not only be one of the best players but to also lead my team and be able to win sectional this year,” she said. “We have struggled with our record, but all that matters right now is sectional. We are ready for whatever a team throws at us.

“We have to believe in ourselves because nobody else does.”

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