FAIRFIELD — Kelly Laggis walked onto the court at Saint Michael’s College this fall, a freshman, ready to begin the next step in her basketball journey.
“I couldn’t imagine not continuing to play,” said Laggis, who graduated from BFA St. Albans in June of 2019.
Laggis has dreamed of being a Purple Knight since she was a kid. She loved the school so much, she even named her dog Mikey.
“I’ve played basketball since I was in third grade,” said Laggis with a chuckle. “I was on the Fairfield Trotters--always bouncing the ball off of my foot!”
In elementary school and high school, Laggis competed on AAU and Mini Metro teams. In her freshman year of high school, she made her first Lone Wolf basketball team.
“That was the best thing for me, and that’s when I realized I could play basketball after high school,” said Laggis. “It prepared me for college.”
Laggis, a starter on her BFA team, had to make the same transition most college athletes make.
“You start over in college and have to prove yourself,” said Laggis. “It’s given me a lot of motivation to practice on my own and work out more, and it gives me something to work for.”
“My coaches and teammates are so supportive, and the upperclassmen make sure the freshmen are getting into the gym and getting extra shots up.”
“Everyone that plays at St. Mike’s has an understanding that we want to be the best and we are going to work for it.”
As of the interview, the Purple Knights were 4-1, the best record the team has had in 12 years.
“Coming into that kind of a team as a freshman and knowing we want to make playoffs and have the right girls to do it, is exciting!”
As much as the team is committed to basketball, they’re also committed to education.
“On the way home from a game, I can hear people typing papers and doing work. We are student-athletes and school comes first.”
“It’s a lot to manage, but for me, it’s given me a lot of structure and discipline,” said Laggis. “Having my coaches care about how I’m doing in my classes is important.”
The mental health of athletes is also a focus at Saint Mike’s. Some of Laggis’ team members are associated with Hope Happens Here.
“It’s so crucial that we are happy and mentally able to get the work done and play the game we love. Basketball is important, but there are so many other things our coaches care about--school, home life, life in general.”
In high school, Laggis played four years of varsity basketball under head coach Shawn Earl.
“My first year on varsity was Coach Earl’s first year, too. He was a great coach and led us through some great seasons.”
“My freshman year we were the 10th seed and went to the championship. We beat Brattleboro and Rice and played CVU in the final,” explained Laggis. “No one expected it!”
“CVU hadn’t lost a game in four years, and we had nothing to lose. We were the underdogs, and we worked our butts off to get there.
“We lost the game, but there was so much I remember--a freshman stepping into Patrick Gym,” said Laggis. “We did what we could and it was a great game. It shows the BFA spirit--never give up!”
“I thank coach Earl for that. He inspired us to give it all we had, and he believed in us!”
Laggis noted that Earl still keeps in touch with her as one of his former players.
“I still call him and talk to him. He’s always been in my corner wanting me to succeed,” said Laggis. “I don’t think I’d be playing in college if it wasn’t for him.”
In mid-November, Earl came to Saint Michael’s to support Laggis.
“Last week he came to my game even though he knew I wasn’t playing because of illness. He’s so supportive; he was like a father figure to me in high school and college.”
Other BFA staff members also had an impact on Laggis during her high school years.
“Ms. Brouillette and Mr. Marlow were extremely influential in my time at BFA.”
“Ms. Brouillete always supported me,” said Laggis. “She played basketball and soccer for BFA and St. Mike’s. She was a great athlete in high school and transitioned to college.”
“I took her leadership class at BFA, and that really helped me to be the leader I was my senior year,” said Laggis. “It also taught me about time management. I tell younger students to take her class because it will change your life!”
“She’s always there for me, and I owe a lot to her. She’s beloved in our community. Everyone knows her because she’s such a wonderful person.”
“Coming from such a small community, everyone genuinely cares what you do after you graduate, and they still want to see you succeed.”
Laggis has seen some time on the court as a freshman, not a small task on a DII college program.
She played in the exhibition games before the season, even scoring some points for the Purple Knights.
She played in her first conference game on the weekend of November 19th.
“I spent all this time practicing and when the time came to play I was nervous!” said Laggis, candidly. “There’s so much anticipation, and I’ve been working so hard.”
“The team was so supportive. When I touched the ball my teammates were cheering for me because they were so glad I was in the game!”
“And when my roommate scored, I had tears in my eyes,” said Laggis. “She really wanted those two points.”
Laggis loves traveling with her team and laughed as she recounted her first ride on a coach bus.
“My teammates laugh because I love that we take the coach buses! My eyes were so wide when I walked on! Some of them went to private schools and rode a coach bus regularly!”
As the interview came to a close, Laggis brought the conversation full circle.
Laggis noted that her mom has a photo of Kelly in the fourth grade, moving into her dorm for basketball camp.
“I’ve wanted to attend St. Mike’s since I was a kid. I remember attending the basketball camp on campus and thinking the girls were gods! It was my dream to play here.”
“I never thought I’d be one of the counselors, but I got to do that last month. I realized the impact I could have on the younger girls’ lives, and it’s really special to me.”
“At the end of the camp my coach told the kids I had been a camper just like they were. She encouraged them that if they kept working hard, they might be able to do what I had done,” said Laggis. “It was incredible to be able to be that example!”