Ashburn, VA (Mar. 25, 2016) – Broad Run senior Mariah Leonard will play basketball for Drexel University beginning the 2016/2017 academic school year.
“I really enjoyed my recruiting experience, said Leonard. It was a fun and amazing experience, and one I will always remember. The experience helped me come out of my shell and mature as a player and person, which helped me grow on and off the court.”
Drexel University is a private institution with three main campuses in Philadelphia, PA. As of 2015, more than 26,000 students were enrolled in over 70 undergraduate programs and more than 100 master’s, doctoral, and professional programs. Drexel’s cooperative education program is a unique aspect of the school’s degree programs, offering students the opportunity to gain up to 18 months of paid, full-time work experience in a field relevant to their undergraduate major or graduate degree prior to graduation.
“I want to pursue a career in physical therapy, and Drexel has both a solid physical therapy program and an excellent co-op program to support that interest, said Leonard. I became interested in physical therapy when my cousin Megan tore her ACL in a basketball game and was out her whole junior year. Her journey was a very difficult one and it was because of physical therapy that she was able to get strong enough to return to the court to play basketball again her senior year.”
Leonard also liked the university and team atmosphere, and could really see herself being very happy at Drexel. The proximity to home also seemed perfect; close enough for family to travel and watch her games, but far enough away to not easily bounce back home when she got homesick. She also liked the Colonial Athletic Association and how several of its teams (James Madison, Towson, Delaware and William and Mary) are close enough for her family and friends to drive and watch her games.
“When I made my final decision to accept the Drexel offer it was such a great feeling. I really enjoyed my official visit and spending time with both the coaches and players; so when I verbally committed to Drexel I felt both relieved and excited. I knew it was the right choice for me.”
Mariah’s head basketball coach will be Denise Dillon. Coach Dillon has been at the helm of Drexel’s womans basketball program for 13 years and is the winningest head coach in program history. Dillon has led the Dragons to six postseason appearances, including a school-record five in a row. That stretch included the Dragons’ first CAA Championship and NCAA Tournament appearance in the 2008-09 season. She earned her second conference Coach of the Year honor that year and followed that with four straight WNIT appearances. In 2013, Dillon led the Dragons to the postseason WNIT championship with a win on the Dragons’ home court.
“My expectations going into my first year of college are to work harder than I ever have in the classroom, on the court, and in the weight room to be the best student and basketball player I can be. I am both humbled and grateful for the opportunity Drexel has extended, and will give 110% of myself to do whatever I can to contribute to the basketball program as a student, player and teammate.”
The two-time Conference 14 Player of the Year and two-time All-Loudoun Girls Basketball Player of the Year started playing basketball in the 3rd grade when her mom and grandmother coached her first basketball team. Mariah had to sit out her 4th grade year courtesy of a fractured arm, but has played basketball ever since. Over that time, when asked about her fondest basketball memories were, Leonard shared: “I have a lot of fond memories playing high school basketball. The first would be my freshmen year during the Cedar Run District consolation game against Osborne when I scored the game winning layup in the last 5-seconds of the game which earned the school’s first birth into the AAA Northwest Region Tournament. The second is when Broad Run played Tuscarora during my junior year and I got to play against my two cousins, Megan and Ashley at the same time, which is something we always talked about growing up. A third is when our team sings the song from High School Musical ‘You are the Music In Me’ before every game.”
“I am thankful to God and everything he has made possible; my mom, my grandparents, my uncle and the rest of my family for their love and support; the Fairfax Stars AAU Program, coaches, trainers, teammates and the friendships made and special times that I will never forget; my Spartan teammates and coaches over the last four years; my other AAU coaches (Vogues and Loudoun Triple Threat), teammates and trainers; Broad Run High School administration, teachers and friends and the Drexel Women’s Basketball Coaches for recruiting me and providing me with the opportunity to attend such a great university and be part of such an awesome Women’s Basketball Program.”
Asked what advice she’d give other pursuing their dream, Leonard shared, “Set goals and establish priorities, and then work hard to achieve success. Never give up on your dreams and lead by example.”
Please join us in wishing Mariah Leonard the very best in her success on the basketball court and in pursuit of a degree in physical therapy from Drexel University.
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