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There is one thing that has become very clear at St. Rose of Belmar; and that is hard work indeed pays off. Joe Whalen is a task master and demands much from his players. There is something else everyone knows, Joe Whalen has formed a special bond that is built on trust and hard work with all his players. But the bond he has with his star point guard is like none other. This weekend, that star point guard made one of the most shocking announcements of the fall…MIKAYLA MARKHAM GAVE A VERBAL COMMITMENT TO IVY LEAGUE SCHOOL… COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY.



Columbia University is a program that has been hoping to change their fortunes. I give you a tale of two stories. First the best point guard in shore history during my time, Jackie Kates was attending Academic Elite. She had narrowed her choices to two schools. That day a guy by the name of Mike McLaughlin did attend Academic Elite. That day Jackie Kates committed to U Penn and that guy. U-Penn, were committed to going the extra yard.  That guy last year won the Ivy League Championship and went to the NCAA tournament. Three months ago Megan Griffith called me, she was the new head coach at Columbia.  She brought up the name Mikayla Markham, I said that would be a reach in recruiting.  Megan Griffith, said thank you and did what no coach at Columbia has done in recent years, recruit the best conference in America Anyway. She went about the business of building relationships, in this case with one of the best guards in all of New Jersey and her genius of a coach Joe Whalen. This weekend Coach Griffith and her staff, served notice their will be a new way of doing business at Columbia University…starting with how they recruit…MEGAN GRIFFITH IS DOING HER OWN THING AND DOING IT HER WAY!


When Mikayla Markham was getting ready to enter high school, she had decided to attend Manasquan. This was the Manasquan team that had STATE PLAYER OF THE YEAR, MARINA MABREY. Plus D1 guards Courtney Hagaman, Stella Clarke, Addie Masonius and a guard by the name of Dara Mabrey all in the program. The chances of Markham playing would was slim and none and slim had already headed out of town. Remember  this was not the superstar Markham we see today… entering high school. This was the shy, often inconsistence shooter with a average handle. But it was then that we all  should’ve known Mikayla Markham was a great decision maker, because she changed her mind and decided  to attend St. Rose. It may have been the decision of her athletic career.


Today Mikayla Marham is considered one of the Rolls Royce of guards. She and Dara Mabrey are the best junior point guards in the state. I put out a list of best point guards in the shore and it did not include Markham. Joe Whalen texted me and said your nuts, she is the best. It’s not just talk folks, Joe Whalen believes this with all his heart. He knows there are few if any kids, who get up everyday and shoot for 2 hours at 6am in the morning everyday. He knows of no other kids that are more coachable and buys into his system. He knows Mikayla Markham is a winner and big game player. He also knows that he can trust Mikayla regardless of the situation or how big the stakes are on any given night. The two have been the backbone of St. Rose’s recent historic run.


Markham once was a talented young unassuming player. She did not want to be the center of attention or be in the spotlight. Today she is a confident  player, who is a leader on and off the court, who relishes the spotlight. Her mental toughness and willingness to be coached hard by Joe Whalen has separated her from almost all others. The ability to make shots behind screens and get to the rim at times can be breath taking. Who can ever forget her back backing three against SJV in the TOC semi-Final, to lead St. Rose to  its biggest victory ,since it’s SCT title; half a decade ago. Her Conference Player of the Year Award and the ALL SHORE AWARDS, seem to mean little to this young lady. Her focus comes down to two things winning and getting better….well apparently education as well…because Columbia University speaks for itself.


Mikayla Markham, has pretty much done it all in her career to this point. She has helped put St. Rose in the national spotlight and helped make the school a household name. But it must be remembered, Markham did not do it with a silver spoon. NOTHING WAS HANDED TO HER.  She did not come into the school with a big reputation. There were no promises made to her. she had tough times on and off the court. There were no FREEBIES for this young lady. She understands what pain, heartbreak and disappoint looks like. She is very close to her family, her mother, father and brother give her 100% support. Her personal strength has been remarkable and breathing taking much like her game.  She has simply out worked everyone and now sits on top of the Mountain Top, both academically and athletically. There have been doubters along the way, like when I left her off my ALL FRESHMAN TEAM…how embarrassing does that look today. There were many with bigger reputations, but few if any with a bigger heart or game. It is she that now has the big name, but she was not given her reputation…SHE EARNED IT!


Mikayla Markham is the kid, I wish all kids would be, work hard, don’t worry what people write about you, or what some blogger thinks, don’t play politics, stand on your on two feet BASED ON YOUR GAME…NOT HYPE. Understand, only you know what’s in your heart and what your dreams look like. Then let everyone brag about your game, when you reach greatness,  but never realizing you are a mega student as well. Be that type of student athlete  that could not only get into Columbia, but also brave enough and ego free enough, to say “NO” to bigger name programs. Mikayla Markham has so few things left to do….but winning  a high school national championship and maybe one day a Ivy’ League title, one day would be two of those things….CONGRATS TO THE MILKAYLA MARKHAM… COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY AND THE ENTIRE ST. ROSE FAMILY….THERE IS A TRUE SUPERSTAR STUDENT ATHLETIC REPPING YOUR SCHOOLS.





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