Brittany Lapidus’s journey to a roster spot with Rutgers’ NCAA Division I women’s basketball program is a testament to her lifelong devotion to the program. Her path – from ball girl and summer camper to team manager and, finally, guard for the Scarlet Knights – has been taken by few, if any.
The senior sports management and communications double major from Marlboro, N.J. grew up cheering on the Scarlet Knights during each home game in The RAC. She was seated behind the bench when center Tammy Sutton-Brown blocked a shot for the team to beat No. 1 Notre Dame in 2001.
Her parents, Neil and Karen, arranged for their daughter to serve as a ball girl during home games from third through seventh grades.
As a ball girl, Lapidus was surrounded by her heroes, particularly former guard Tasha Pointer.
“I always idolized Coach Tasha, an undersized guard leading the team in rebounds, getting to the hole no matter who she was up against,” she says of Pointer, who is an assistant coach for the team. “I would pretend to be her while my friends were pretending to be Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. I was in my glory wiping up sweat!”
After her six season stint as a ball girl, Lapidus received the most improved camper award while attending head coach C. Vivian Stringer’s summer basketball intensive during middle school.
Rutgers was the only college to which she applied, but Lapidus says she never considered playing basketball for the Scarlet Knights.
“I really just wanted to be involved and to learn about the team from an operational perspective,” she says. “Growing up a Rutgers fan, I always had a sense of Scarlet Knight pride and already felt like part of the Rutgers family.”
When Lapidus arrived on campus, she went directly to Michelle Edwards, director of basketball operations, to offer her assistance and became one of the team’s five volunteer student managers.
She set up and broke down practices, traveled with the team, worked during games and occasionally stayed after practice to shoot, which was how Coach Stringer noticed her work ethic and comfort level with the team.
When the roster was short for the 2010-11 season, the 5’ 7” guard was offered a spot on one of the country’s most respected college women’s basketball teams.
“When Coach Stringer told me, ‘We’re going to put you on the team,’ I was overwhelmed... more excited than you can imagine.”
Basketball players often walk onto college teams with high school team experience. But Lapidus had only played recreation basketball during high school and knew she would have to work hard to keep her No. 10 jersey.
She began a training program to prepare for preseason practices, but the shift from avid fan to competitive player was more challenging than she anticipated.
“It was tough for me at the beginning. I was not in shape and it took me a while to figure out how to contribute during practice.”
Her teammates helped, making the transition easier by being supportive and willing to stick around after practice to shoot, go over plays or answer questions.
When Lapidus stepped onto the court for her first game as a Scarlet Knight in November 2010, her parents, who have season tickets, cheered from the stands. “My heart was racing,” she recalls, “and my mom was basically in tears.”
Three years later, Lapidus carries the top GPA on the squad. She has earned Big East All-Academic team honors and will head to Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, where she interned last summer, to work as a product training specialist after graduation.
Lapidus has never taken her opportunity to play on basketball’s biggest stages with the Scarlet Knights for granted.
“Every part of my life has been touched and strengthened by my involvement in the program,” she says. “I will always strive to carry myself with the values [Coach Stringer] instills in each player she coaches.”