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Senior captain Elle Petra is averaging 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Indians this winter. She’s also a National Honor Society member who’s involved in a wide variety of activities at Guilford High School. (Photo courtesy of Elle Petra )
Elle Petra isn’t your typical student-athlete. Elle, a senior captain center on the Guilford girls’ basketball team, is involved in numerous extracurricular activities that could easily overwhelm any high schooler. However, Elle never frets about being too busy. Instead, she maps out her weekly schedule to a T.
“Every Monday, I meet with members of the Unity Club. On Tuesday, I have meetings with the Gender and Sexualities Alliance,” says Elle, who is president of the Unity Club. “I joke around with my parents that Wednesday is like my day off, because Thursday and Friday, I’m back at it again.”
Elle is secretary of the Environmental Club that gets together on Thursdays. On Fridays, she meets with the Guilford Youth Feminist Group, for which she serves as co-president. Elle is also a member of the Cultural Competency Committee, the Spread the Word to End the Word Inclusion Board, and the Safe Schools Climate Committee. This is all on top of being a key member of the Guilford girls’ hoops squad.
“I don’t really have time to do much,” Elle jokes. “All of these clubs and groups I belong to have so much importance to me, though, and I wouldn’t trade my busy schedule for the world. It’s really a privilege that I’m able to do all of this, along with play basketball.”
Elle is taking on a larger role for the Indians this season. First-year Head Coach Bernie Brennan says that she’s one of the most valuable players on his roster.
“Elle is a workhorse for us in the paint,” says Brennan. “She grabs a lot of rebounds and has done a great job scoring for us as well this season.”
Elle was more of a role player as an underclass athlete, and she enjoyed being in that position. However, now that she’s a senior, the 5-foot-10 center is assuming more responsibility and becoming more assertive with her shot. Elle is averaging a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds per game for the Indians this year.
“I used to not shoot that much and always looked to get the ball to other teammates, but I’ve learned to be more aggressive, and it’s paid off this year,” Elle says. “I feel like my physicality in the paint has helped, and my ability to grab rebounds has also been beneficial.”
Guilford lost eight of its first 10 games to start the season, but rebounded by winning six of 10 to make both the SCC Tournament and the Class L State Tournament. Even though the Indians lost to East Haven in their SCC opener, Elle looks forward to playing in states.
“It was a tough loss, because we were in that game until the very end. It was a two-point game with three minutes left, but they did a good job of making all their free throws down the stretch,” says Elle. “I think we can surprise a lot of people and a lot of teams in [the State Tournament]. “Look at how far we’ve come from the beginning of the year. I think that’s special in itself, and my goal is to go out there and have fun with the girls. Winning would be awesome, but for me, it’s about ending our season on a high note.”
Elle’s love for the game came from her mother, Liza Petra, who played basketball and soccer at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. Petra, who was inducted into the Wellesley Hall of Fame in 2014, finished her basketball career with 1,739 points and led Division III in rebounding during her final season.
“My mom plays a more significant role than her just being my idol in terms of basketball. She’s taught me how to empathize with people,” Elle says. “I love basketball, because it’s a fun sport, but I really learned to enjoy it, because I connect with people on a deeper level. That is all a credit to my mom.”
Elle also credits both of her parents for taking her to countless AAU games, in addition to clinics and practices.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without my parents,” Elle says. “Those two dedicated a lot of time to me, and I’m so thankful for both of them.”
While she’s seeing success on the court, Elle also takes great pride in her academic achievements. Elle is a member of the National Honor Society at Guilford and currently sports a 3.93 grade-point average.
“School is very important to me, and I’m close to making a decision as to which college I am going to be attending,” says Ellie. “Wellesley is recruiting me to play basketball there, and it would be awesome to go to the school that my mom did. Other than that, I know I want to major in international relations with a minor in mathematics.”
Coach Brennan is going to miss working with Elle after she goes off to college. Brennan says the impact that Elle made on the Indians has been instrumental to their success.
“Elle is the anchor of our team,” says Brennan says. “She’s always cheering on her teammates, she’s enthusiastic, and she’s just a great kid.”