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Epolito seeks to create a positive experience for all Laker athletes



Amanda Epolito

Jan. 25, 2008

By LINDA BOUVET, LSSU Sports Information Director

When senior guard Amanda Epolito was recruited to play basketball at Lake Superior State, Laker coaches immediately noticed her defensive tenacity. She burst onto the scene with such aggressiveness, in fact, that she fouled out in her first game as Laker - after playing only eight minutes!

These days, Epolito still plays with a defensive mindset, but she has the maturity and composure that coaches expect of a senior. She is a role player and role model - a taskmaster with a generous heart.


"Amanda is basically the glue of the team and the positive voice of our team," LSSU women's basketball coach Jamie Pewinski said. "She knows exactly what needs to get accomplished, no matter if she is out on the floor or not. Her role has been up and down in terms of being a starter, but she has always stayed positive. She keeps getting better and continues to work hard."

On the court, Epolito is called upon when the Lakers need a small, quick lineup to play a pressing defense or fill in at point guard. She averages 2.5 points and one steal per game.

"She hustles and is good at anticipating where the ball is going next and what the other team is trying to do," Pewinski said. "In short bursts she puts good pressure on the ball and wreaks havoc on the other team's point guard."

The highlight of her senior season was playing the exhibition game at Michigan State in her hometown of East Lansing. Her father, Jim, played football at MSU.

"Playing in front of all those fans - it was a good hometown crowd, really fun and really exciting," Epolito said. "And we played very well. We were not intimidated at all. I have always gone to camps there, and my dad played football there. It was a really cool experience."

Once the hype of playing Big Ten competition wore off (LSSU also played an exhibition game at Michigan), Epolito and her senior teammates had the task of preparing a young team for the grueling pace of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Freshmen have taken over for point guard Ronlea Peterson and forward Jill Walton, who suffered season-ending injuries.

"The freshmen are so eager to learn," Epolito said. "They are so excited and have so much energy. We can teach them anything. They are such good listeners and follow direction so well. They don't know a lot, but they give it their all no matter what. They always come in with energy and a positive attitude. They have come a long way. Some of them are starting, and doing a great job."

"Amanda comes from a really good family," Pewinski said. "She is a good person and very genuine. She wants everyone to do well and be the best they can be. She is satisfied when other people are doing well. She can enjoy other people's success, and that only makes the team better."

Epolito has a similar mindset when volunteering time on behalf of the LSSU athletics program, which has been working to build rapport among athletes in all sports, generate student body support and get involved in more community service projects. When there is a need for student-athletes to work on special projects, Epolito's is the first name that comes to mind.

"I've always been into getting involved with the student-athletes and the students," said Epolito, who has been active on the LSSU Student-Athlete Advisory Committee for the past three years. "It's so important for our school. It's a unique experience here because we can do so much. We are so small, but we have camaraderie. We need to take advantage of that. We can make a difference here."

Her favorite SAAC activity so far was the "Chains of Love" project during the 2007 holiday season. LSSU student-athletes sold paper chain links for $1 each and raised enough money to sponsor Christmas for six Chippewa County families.

"It's definitely something that we should keep doing," said Epolito, who plans to pursue a doctorate in psychology after earning her undergraduate degree this spring.

Epolito will leave her stamp on the program, and is taking fond memories with her.

"I've been so fortunate to be on such great teams that had such great leadership," she said. "I was able to see what works and what doesn't work. I was blessed to be on a team that had a winning record for so long...My freshman year we had good team chemistry and good leadership. I learned the importance of staying together and hanging together. I think that's so important, and I want the freshmen to have a positive experience."



Lake Superior State Women's Basketball
 
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