Fanni Szabo '17 Discusses Leadership Role as Lone Senior on Team
As the only senior on the women's basketball team, Fanni Szabo '17 has taken a leadership role both on and off the court.
The women’s basketball team has an unusually young roster with just one senior, Fanni Szabo ’17, and six freshmen. As a result, Szabo has been thrust into a leadership role both on and off the court. In the team’s game two weeks ago against Harvard University, a 70-65 loss on the road, Szabo demonstrated her leadership and integral role on the team as she led the Big Green in scoring with 16 points, while playing all 40 minutes.
Szabo, who is originally from Budapest, Hungary and has represented her home country on the national stage, was not the only recruited player in her class. However, for a variety of reasons, the other players are no longer on the varsity team.
“Since I am the only senior, I am the one all of the underclassmen come to for help and advice,” Szabo said. “I definitely had to step into this role more.”
For Szabo, having her teammates look up to her and helping them along the way is rewarding, independent of their play on the court.
“It’s really easy to play with this team,” Szabo said. “I feel like we have a really great team this year. We started to play together really well, and now we are playing for each other.”
Head coach Belle Koclanes has coached Szabo throughout her four years at Dartmouth. According to Koclanes, Szabo’s college basketball decision came down to Dartmouth and Ohio State University.
“[Szabo] was recruited by the previous staff, but when we were hired she hadn’t made her final decision yet,” Koclanes said. “So it was down to Dartmouth and Ohio State, so we came in on the tail end of that process, and [Szabo] decided to attend Dartmouth.”
Szabo has spent some time at the College dealing with injuries, partially as a result of playing the full year with both Dartmouth and Hungarian national teams. Despite her injuries, Szabo continues to be an offensive force for the Big Green.
“[Szabo] has grown and developed her game on both ends of the floor from freshman year to senior year,” Koclanes said. “She came in with a really strong offensive game, and we’ve focused tremendously on [Szabo’s] defensive side of the game.”
Szabo is still one of Dartmouth’s leading scoring options, averaging 8.9 points per game this season,but she has expanded her game to focus on passing and defense. This season, she is second on the team in both assists and steals.
While her play on the court speaks for itself, she is just as important to her teammates off the court.
“She is an awesome teammate, she cares about everyone, she’s there for everyone,” Koclanes said. “She’s soft spoken. Her leadership is through her actions.”
On a team with just one senior, Isalys Quiñones ’19 has also seen her role expand greatly from last season in which she had very limited playing time.
“It was definitely a challenge in the beginning.” Quiñones said. “I think that I am starting to grow into it and have more of a place even as a sophomore. Our juniors are also starting to pick up on that because they are getting more minutes than they have before.”
Quiñones and other teammates recognize the tough position Szabo has been put in as the only senior leader on the team.
“Going into this year without another classmate has been difficult for her, but she has been doing a really good job with managing what she’s been able to do,” Quiñones said. “I think it is a little bit tough, but it’s not impossible, and she’s doing a great job right now.”
Moving forward, with Szabo’s leadership, the team hopes to finish within the top four schools in the Ivy League conference since those four teams will be invited to the first ever conference tournament at the University of Pennsylvania. Currently, Dartmouth is 0-2 in conference play and ranked seventh, with both losses coming against Harvard.
The Big Green next plays at home versus Columbia University on Friday, Jan. 17 at 7 p.m.