Senior Amanda Congialdi, of Sharon Hill, is going down in history as the tenth Penn State Brandywine basketball player to earn 1,000 points on the court. She is only the sixth female player in the campus' history to reach this extraordinary milestone and she said it's been her goal since high school.
A communications major and graduate of Academy Park High School, Congialdi entered Wednesday's game against Penn State York having earned 999 points since she started playing as a freshman in 2010. Scoring one point may sound like an easy accomplishment, but Congialdi admits she was extremely nervous.
"I was more nervous than excited to be honest with you," she said. "My teammates were telling me not to think about it. It was such a big game. It was a division game, so that was the most important thing I was thinking about ? but I had it in my head that I wasn't going to shoot the ball. I hesitated a couple times. But the very first time I shot, I made it and after that everything was fine."
Luckily, after coming up one point shy in her last game, she was able to score big in front of friends and family.
"I invited people from school and family," Congialdi said. "People that usually are not able to come because they work and have busy lives." There was one important guest of honor she was thrilled to share the moment with - her three-and-a-half year old niece, Lia, to whom she happily bequeathed the game ball. "She's a big fan. It was really good to see her come. She was really excited."
Congialdi expressed regret that she was unable to reach the 1000-point milestone during high school, but was able to turn that into determination upon making the team at Brandywine.
"I kind of had a chip on my shoulder ever since then," she explained. "I'm a very competitive person. I always want to be better than my opponents around me. So I always made it a point to get this. It still has always been more about the team, I'm more team oriented ? that was just one of my personal goals."
Congialdi said her nearly four years on the team have brought her lasting friendships and a new sense of self.
"We have great team chemistry," she said, adding that hanging out during classes and after school has had a positive impact on team play. "Teams can always improve by learning from each other, but we've developed great chemistry on the court."
Congialdi also credits Coach Larry Johnson with helping her develop tremendously as a player. "In high school my personal game was not what it is now," she said. "One of the things he does really well is instill confidence in us as a team. No matter if the other team is bigger than us, he tells us we can still win." Congialdi said Johnson helped her develop her aggression and channel it into driving the ball to the basket. "After my freshman year, that quickly became a strength of mine. He instilled confidence in me that I can drive the ball to the basket and at least get a foul if not make it."
Congialdi plans to graduate in spring 2015, but this is her last season of eligibility. Though she hasn't quite wrapped her head around what it will be like to spend another year at the campus without basketball, she has a clear goal in mind for this season.
"This being my last season on the team, I'm probably more determined than ever to win a championship," Congialdi said. "Freshman year we won and I want to bring back that feeling."