Allen Helping the Warriors Succeed on the Court
Elizabeth Allen has been playing soccer and basketball since she was a youngster, starting soccer as a four-year old and then beginning basketball at age six. Now a junior at Valley Regional High School, Elizabeth is proving a key component for the Warriors in both sports.
The Valley girls’ basketball team stormed out to stellar start by winning its first 11 games this season. The Warriors took a couple of losses last week, but are still sporting a solid record of 12-2 as they enter the home stretch.
“We got off to a great start, and we’ve just continued rolling, even though we’ve had some difficulties with COVID,” says Elizabeth. “I was out with COVID at one point, and we’ve had some injuries, but we’ve found a way to make it work.”
Valley has qualified for both Shorelines and states, and Elizabeth and her teammates are looking forward to competing in the postseason. Elizabeth knew that the Warriors had potential heading into the campaign, but she’s been surprised with how well they’re performing.
“We knew we’d be good, but this is better than we’d expected, and we have such a sense of unity,” Elizabeth says. “One of our main goals from the start was winning the Shoreline championship, but now we’re starting to look even bigger going into states.”
Even though Valley made Shorelines last season, the Warriors were unable to compete due to COVID exposure, making this year’s tournament even more special. Elizabeth, who earned her varsity spot as a freshman and has been contributing ever since, knows that Valley has what it takes to earn big victories. Elizabeth notes a 46-41 road win over Northwest Catholic as one of the highlights of the season.
“It was our first big out-of-conference game. They were good, and we knew we had to show what we could do against some bigger schools,” says Elizabeth. “We showed up, did what we needed to, and pulled out the dub.”
Elizabeth and the Warriors have accomplished a lot with just 11 players on this year’s roster. While the roster is small, Elizabeth notes that the team is close, and she’s particularly happy to be competing alongside some of her good friends, including junior Abby Bradbury, whom she’s played with since 4th grade.
Head Coach Jaimie Bickelhaupt has not only seen Elizabeth’s contributions on the court and in the stat sheet, but also on a personal level. Coach Bickelhaupt says that Elizabeth, who leads the team in charges drawn, is one of Valley’s best defenders.
“Liz has been asked to guard posts and guards and, each time, steps up big. She is the leading player on the team for charges drawn, meaning she’s in the right spot defensively and isn’t afraid of contact,” Bickelhaupt says. “Liz is someone the girls look to for a laugh with one of the best personalities to be around. She’s truly one of a kind and a great asset to our team.”
Elizabeth feels equally grateful to have Bickelhaupt leading the Warriors, noting that her coach has helped her build her confidence, especially when she was playing varsity as a freshman. Elizabeth also credits her teammates, her parents Michelle and Thomas, and her siblings Lauren and Blair as a source of constant support.
“On the team, we’ve developed a support system for each other, so it makes it really easy to develop individually, and that can be seen in our team play,” says Elizabeth. “My parents are always there to support me and, if I have a bad game, they’re always there to pick me up and tell me I’ve still got it with me.”
Elizabeth’s family support has also helped her succeed in soccer, her academics, and in her extracurriculars. As an honors student, Elizabeth challenges herself with Advanced Placement classes at Valley. She is part of the Interact Club, the Global Women’s Advocacy Club, and is the secretary of the World Food Program, a club that raises funds to help provide food to underprivileged countries.
In the fall, Elizabeth hits the soccer field for the Warriors. When she was seven years old, Elizabeth found her position on the pitch when she moved over to goalkeeper. Elizabeth has continued to serve as the last line of defense for her teams throughout youth soccer, middle school, high school, and now with her Premier team, too.
“I really like being able to have that position of leadership on the field, see what’s going on, and communicate that with my teammates,” Elizabeth says. “My teammates have to trust me a lot, and it’s a lot of responsibility, but I like having that.”
Following her junior season, Elizabeth saw her teammates’ trust in her when she was named one of Valley’s senior captains for the 2022 soccer season. Last year, Elizabeth earned All-Shoreline Conference Second Team honors and was also named the Warriors’ Most Valuable Player.
Once the high school season ends, Elizabeth picks up with her Premier team—the Vale Soccer Club out of Middletown—by practicing, playing in a league, and competing in tournaments and showcases. Even while playing varsity basketball, Elizabeth tries to play with her Premier squad as often as possible.
“It’s a little tricky with basketball, but I try to do indoor stuff when I can. Vale has really allowed me to appreciate soccer more, because everything is so fast-paced and a lot more intense,” says Elizabeth, who also enjoys golfing with her family. “I also play with some girls I compete against during the high school season, so it’s fun getting to know people.”
Elizabeth enjoys the level of play so much that she’s hoping to continue playing soccer at the college level. She’s been exploring her options and plans to stay in the Northeast so she “can go home and my parents can watch my games.” Elizabeth is considering studying political science or psychology.
While she’s currently focused on finishing the basketball season strong, Elizabeth is excited that she still has another season on the soccer field at Valley. Elizabeth feels thankful to work with her head coach Lauren MacDonald and goalkeeper’s coach Donn Heikkila.
“They have both been a big help,” Elizabeth says. “It’s really exciting to be able to another season coming. We have a good group of girls, so I’m excited to see what we can do.”