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Tritons basketball star, team leader continues record-breaking season

By Robbyn Hopewell
Published February 15, 2024
Categories: Athletics, International Life, Political Science, Students

Senior Lauryn Vieira’s love of the game has ignited dreams of playing at the next level postgraduation. Photos by Brittany Iamele

A 2021 in-season injury at a Kansas junior college put Lauryn Vieira’s basketball dreams in jeopardy.

The Haute-Savoie, France, native needed to be recruited to keep playing—but offers were sparse for 5-foot-3 point guards unable to showcase what they’ve got. Luckily, Eckerd College Head Women’s Basketball Coach Paul Honsinger ’98 could see the potential.

Now, the senior marketing and international business student is having her best season ever for the Eckerd Tritons and racking up national accolades and program records for the Division II team. Lauryn ranks second in the nation in steals and steals per game, third in assists per game, fifth in total assists and 16th in minutes played.

The Eckerd Tritons women have made an NCAA Division II Tournament appearance in the two previous seasons and even reached the team’s first Sweet 16 in 2023. Lauryn contributed to that success by accumulating 824 points, 458 rebounds, 463 assists and 200 steals during her time on the team. As of early February, she’s also averaging 15.54 points, 5.65 rebounds, 4.24 steals and 6.5 assists per game this season.

Her favorite of her achievements this banner season is scoring 43 points against Lynn University on Jan. 3. The performance set the single-game record for Eckerd basketball (men’s and women’s), garnered the most points by a Division II women’s basketball player this season, and tied the Sunshine State Conference single-game record. Between her points and assists, she contributed to 62 of Eckerd’s total points in the 69–56 win.

“Defense has always been my best skill, so having 43 points was good,” she says. “It was their home court. I just felt confident. It was a game where I just went at the basket and scored.”

Junior guard Hannah Wentworth (left) and junior center Martyna Kowalska help Vieira to her feet after a great play.

That confidence was earned through years of play, from elementary school in France through being recruited to junior college in the United States. “My mom played basketball. My brother played basketball and I wanted to try that,” she recalls. “I was 5. I have one sister and she plays too.”

Love of the game—in addition to increasing prowess—has ignited dreams of playing at the next level postgraduation, possibly in Spain. She had originally prepared herself for a life after sport by learning cosmetology and being certified as a hairstylist in France. The skill comes in handy on the road when teammates need a trim or would like to try out a new color.

“[My team,] we are all international students; only one of us is from the U.S.,” Lauryn says of her friends and clients. “It’s actually really fun. We have the same thinking because we all know what the other is going through.”

Her teammates get to be styled by the two-time SSC Defensive Player of the Year, seven-time SSC Defensive Player of the Week and a Division II CIDA National Player of the Week for her outstanding game against Lynn in January.

In the classroom, Lauryn’s newfound passion for international relations developed organically.

She took Introduction to International Relations with Political Science Professor Mary Meyer McAleese, Ph.D., and fell in love with the in-depth conversations on conflicts, including the Russia-Ukraine War. When it came time to choose courses for her final semester at Eckerd, McAleese’s Diplomacy and International Relations made Lauryn’s short list.

“I really like the courses and learning more about how the governments work,” she explains. “I’m not sure I’d want to major in it, but it is the class that I like the most.”

Through March, Lauryn will focus on her team and advancing their success. She’s a senior leader, and she knows her play makes an impact.

“I have a bigger role. I have to score more and play well for my team,” Lauryn adds. “I have to make the team feel good. As a leader, I have improved a lot since my years of being here. Now I think about how I can show my teammates more.”

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