By Tommy Gilligan, West Point Public AffairsFebruary 16, 2011
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Feb. 16, 2011) -- West Point Cadet Lara Baranek, an Orefield, Pa., native, took a path that is not often traveled on her way to the storied grounds of West Point.
The senior guard/forward for the Black Knights Women's Basketball team started her collegiate career at Seton Hall University playing softball and led the Pirates in batting average while roaming the outfield as a freshman.
Baranek decided to transfer to West Point after watching Army play Seton Hall with future Black Knight teammate Erin Anthony, who was a high school senior at the time. Both had played together in high school.
After sitting out her freshman year at West Point due to NCAA transfer regulations, Baranek earned All-Patriot league honors on the softball team prior to joining the basketball team full time.
In her first opportunity as a sophomore, Baranek earned a starting role on the team and has not looked back.
Recently, Baranek sat down with the Pointer View newspaper for a question and answer session.
PV: What made you decide to transfer from Seton Hall to West Point after your freshman year'
LB: I remember (during) Thanksgiving of my freshman year, I went home and Erin (Anthony) said to me that Army was playing at Seton Hall. Erin drove me back to school so we could watch the game. As we were sitting together watching the game, I began to think to myself that I could really play with these girls. Then I started to think about why I never thought about going to the military academy, so I kept on looking into it. I am a pretty competitive person, so I thought if Erin can do it, I can do it.
PV: How was the transition from playing softball to playing basketball, a game that you did not play in two years at that point'
LB: I practiced with the basketball team my freshman year, and it wasn't until January when I started talking to some of the girls on the team and the coaches that I decided to play softball my freshman year. It was a pretty easy transition. When I was at Seton Hall, I thought it was going to be hard to get back into shape, but when I got to Beast and started running it really helped me transition back into basketball shape.
PV: Looking back at your athletic career, if you had to make a choice between basketball or softball, which would you choose'
LB: That was always my problem with what sport did I want to play. I feel that I had a pretty good mix, I got to play two years of softball and three years of basketball, so I am really happy with the way it worked out.
PV: How has this transition from Seton Hall to West Point shaped you as a person'
LB: It is hard to say, although I know I can definitely have a great career out of this. However, I feel that I am the same person as I was before I came here. I have learned so much from being on the team, seeing how the team dynamic works and how to collectively achieve goals as a group.
PV: Looking back on your past four years at West Point, what have been some of your high points and some of your low points' How has that benefited you'
LB: I have been rather lucky that I have not had that many real low points during my time here.
One of highest points was when we beat Navy in their gym my sophomore year. It was really good to give it to them in front of their home crowd. Then playing toe-to-toe with Oklahoma last year-that was really great.
PV: Heading into the season, what was your goal and the team's goals going into 2010-11'
LB: I really want to finish better, I may go in to get the foul, but I wasn't finishing the play. So I've been pushing myself to get better at that. I am doing better than I was last year, but I am not as good at it as I want to be.
PV: What is your personal goal and team goal for the rest of the season'
LB: I just want to keep doing what I am doing, it is not that I don't want to aim high, but I just want to keep being a consistent player. We started off great going 4-0, but we dropped three straight and I don't want that to happen again.