Georgia McKay thought she had her college plan in place. But then she got a visit from a friend last fall, and that changed everything.
“I always wanted to travel,” said McKay, a four-year basketball player at Bronx Science. “So at first I just wanted to get out of New York and explore the United States.”
She had a friend — and exchange student from Italy, Anna Beltramini — stay with her family during the fall semester. Traveling outside her own country to seek education inspired McKay, so getting the acceptance letter from McGill University in Montreal was welcome news.
“I thought this is just the perfect way to start,” she said. “It had all I was looking for.”
Travelling and seeing the United States can wait until after college, McKay said. Now she’s ready to transfer her on-court moves from a 17-2 Wolverines team this past season to the classroom.
“In the fall I’ll be starting off as a kinesiology major, which is the study of movement,” McKay said. “And then maybe move on to physical therapy and things like that.”
But before she heads off to Canada, McKay — like a lot of seniors this time of year — wonders where those high school years went.
“I think during the moment, during the years in high school, it did seem like it was taking a long time,” McKay said. “But now that I’m through with it, it seems to have gone by in an instant.”
But McKay does have a favorite memory from her basketball career, and it came earlier this season versus Rucker.
“It was a home game that came down to the wire,” McKay said. “That game sticks out for me because the odds were against us and we all came together and we pulled it out. They were new to our division, and they were undefeated — until we played them.”
The Wolverines logged a 49-47 victory in that game back on Dec. 15, and McKay lit up Rucker for 12 points and 16 rebounds in that victory.
McKay also credits basketball with helping her get through four years at Bronx Science, a very challenging academic school.
“Basketball was a huge part of high school for me,” McKay said. “During the season I was that much more committed to my work because I knew I needed to get my work done so that I could sleep and be energized for a game. It kept me grounded.”
The game also provided McKay with valuable life skills she learned from head coach Michael Mei.
“Everything I’ve learned from basketball can be applied to my life, so I’m extremely grateful for what I had these past four years,” McKay said. “I learned persistence, and that practice makes perfect, and that you can’t do things alone. You need your teammates, you need people around you. Don’t try and do something alone. Let people help you.”
This past season, with only four seniors on a young Wolverines team, McKay also learned to become a leader.
“This year it was a little different in that we had so many freshmen, but that also gave me a chance to be a leader and a teacher,” McKay said. “They were a bunch of talented kids, and they were just getting started. So it was great to help them and, for lack of a better term, pass down what I learned and the wisdom I’ve gained from the last four years.”
McKay does plan to play some level of basketball at McGill. Yet, as she reflects back to her days on the Bronx Science team, one teammate she will always remain close to is senior guard Michelle Kim.
“We’re always there for each other,” McKay said. “She’s my go-to person whenever I’m facing anything. I remember in my sophomore year I tore my ACL and she was always there for me.
“We have this connection where if anything is happening, we go to each other no matter how far we are from each other.”
And before McGill beckons in the fall, there is a little side trip McKay plans on taking this summer — to Italy, to visit the foreign exchange student who helped shape her college choice in the first place.
“I’m going to Italy for a couple of weeks to stay with Anna,” McKay said. “And I’m also going to camp to learn how to become a referee.
“I’m going to miss my teammates and my coach, but I think I’m ready for the next step.”