Elspeth Grasso is an integral part of the girls basketball team’s success this year. Champlain Valley Union (CVU) head coach Ute Otely explains why. “Els has provided strong senior leadership as our starting point guard and captain. She is tough as nails and doesn’t shy away from physical play,” she continues. “Els is a steady ball-handler, a quick defender, and has improved her outside shooting to become an offensive threat. We wouldn’t be 17-0 without her.”
Born in Connecticut on May 2, 1995, Grasso and her family lived briefly in Massachusetts before re-locating to Shelburne seven years ago. Her family includes parents, Susan and Domenico, older brother Ben, age 22, older brother Jacob, age 20, younger sister Caitlin, a sophomore at CVU, a dog named Odie, a cat named Sadie, and seven chickens.
While recounting her first foray into basketball, Grasso credits her mother and father for sparking her interest in the sport. “My parents signed me up for a basketball clinic when we lived in Massachusetts. I remember the coach was so scary he made me cry. At the time I didn’t care much for basketball,” she recounted. “But the following year was better and I decided to stick with it. It was a good decision.”
And it was. With a combination of skills gleaned from a variety of organizations including middle school, mini metro, Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) and Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) traveling teams, Grasso is competitive in all phases of the game. Her dedication to the sport is now paying off for the perfect Redhawks.
A senior captain, Grasso understands her strengths. “I have a positive attitude, I get the team excited about every game, and I’m very open. If anyone has an issue or a problem they can talk to me,” she explained. A two-year varsity player, Grasso admits to a personal ritual before each competition. “I listen to a certain song before every game. The song is ‘Wings’ by Macklemore and I have to listen to itmore than a few times to get pumped up for the game,” she mentions. The team has its own ritual. They stand in a circle while everyone bounces a basketball and claps their hands. Not one to knock rituals that are obviously working; the Lady Redhawks are undefeated through 17 games this season with three games to go before playoffs.
In addition to basketball, Grasso is involved in Blood Donors Club and National Honor Society at CVU, and was a previous cross country and track & field athlete but quit both to focus on basketball, her preferred sport.
As for next year Grasso has decided to attend the University of Delaware where she will most likely pursue her interest in biomedical engineering. “It feels good to be finished with my decision of where I want to attend college. The campus is beautiful and it didn’t hurt that my father will be the new provost there.”
There’s not much doubt that this stress free senior has already jumped through hoops to accomplish her goals and will parlay her talents and versatility into a winning combination at UD.