Millennium Club

997 no more: Maria Far­rell cel­eb­rates her 1,000 point mile­stone with head coach Adam Washam and big sis­ter (and as­sist­ant coach) Michelle Far­rell. PHO­TOS PROVIDED BY JOHN SWOY­ER / MAST CHARTER

— Last week, Maria Far­rell be­came the first bas­ket­ball play­er at MaST Charter to score 1,000 ca­reer points.

Be­ing a stu­dent-ath­lete at MaST Com­munity Charter School is all Maria Far­rell has ever known. Now, with gradu­ation loom­ing in a few months, she’ll be forced to move on to the next stage of her life and sub­sist on the memor­ies she’s made.

Suf­fice it to say she has more than a thou­sand of them.

“I was think­ing about it re­cently, the fact that I’ve prob­ably spent more time at my school than I have at my own house,” she said mat­ter of factly.

For Far­rell, a MaST (at 1800 By­berry Road) lifer and Holmes­burg nat­ive, Tues­day of last week marked the cul­min­a­tion of an epic jour­ney. The school, known much more for aca­dem­ics than ath­let­ics, got to cel­eb­rate Far­rell be­com­ing the first bas­ket­ball play­er in school his­tory to score 1,000 points in her ca­reer. She wasted no time in get­ting there, either, bury­ing a three-point­er from the left corner on the game’s first play.

It’s hard to fathom Far­rell ever see­ing this com­ing when she first laced up her high-tops as a MaST sixth-grader. Be­ing able to ac­com­plish something so rare and share it with the people around her — some of whom she’s known since she was 5 years old — has made it even more spe­cial.

“At MaST, every­body kind of knows every­body, so every­where I go people have been con­grat­u­lat­ing me, even if it’s someone I haven’t spoken to in five years,” she said. “I think it’s something to cel­eb­rate to­geth­er as a school, and the fact that I was the first one to do it is a big deal for me.”

MaST has won just four games this sea­son, and the team’s sea­son in­cluded an 11-game los­ing streak at one point. Thus, chart­ing Far­rell’s pro­gress as she ap­proached the mile­stone has been enough to get every­body at the school in­volved and feel­ing like a part of it.

Far­rell hit 1,000 points in a 38-28 win over Plum­stead Chris­ti­an on Jan. 22. After her shot swooshed through the net, head coach Adam Washam called time so that the school could com­mem­or­ate the spe­cial mo­ment, com­plete with pic­tures, flowers and, of course, a cel­eb­rat­ory pile-up.

“I don’t even know how to de­scribe the mo­ment,” Far­rell said. “Every­body tackled me in­to a dog pile. It’s been our goal this year to get me to 1,000 points, so it’s been a great ex­per­i­ence for the whole team. Every­one has been so sup­port­ive. I don’t think it’s really hit me yet. It’s sur­real, I guess I’d say.”

Michelle Far­rell, one of Maria’s two older sis­ters, has had a unique vant­age point in mon­it­or­ing Maria’s quest for 1,000. Since last sea­son, Michelle has been a teach­er at MaST as well as an as­sist­ant to Washam on the bas­ket­ball team.

“I was ob­vi­ously very, very proud of her when it happened,” said Michelle, who is 13 years older than Maria. “She’s been watch­ing me play since she was three years old, and it was neat grow­ing up and be­ing able to teach her things about the game. It’s great that I can coach her, and then we can get in the car and I drive her home and we just talk about any­thing.”

And how do the two com­pare as bas­ket­ball play­ers?

“She’s scored way more points than I ever did,” Michelle said, laugh­ing.

Washam, who has served as Maria’s head coach for both bas­ket­ball and vol­ley­ball (her sec­ond­ary sport), struggled to put in­to per­spect­ive his star play­er’s im­pact at the school.

“I think ‘am­bas­sad­or’ is the per­fect word to de­scribe her,” Washam said. “We’re fairly new and don’t get much out­side at­ten­tion when it comes to sports, but she’s changed all that. Now, there’s more of a buzz, both with­in the school and out­side of it. She’s helped change the per­sona of MaST ath­let­ics. Hav­ing been here from the be­gin­ning, do­ing what she’s done has poin­ted us in the right dir­ec­tion.

“It changes the over­all per­cep­tion,” he con­tin­ued. “We just got a new weight room here, and I’ve seen more ath­letes in there. They see what she’s ac­com­plished and think they can do that, too.”

Michelle Far­rell agreed.

“My daugh­ter is a third-grader here and was at the game (last week), and the first thing she said was, ‘When I’m in high school, I’m go­ing to score 1,000 points,’” she said. “Maria walks the halls and the little kids look up to her. Not only that, but they see they don’t have to go to an­oth­er school to shine ath­let­ic­ally. She’s a good role mod­el in that re­spect.”

As for what comes next for Maria Far­rell, well, she’s still un­de­cided. When you’ve been at one place for so long, it’s easy to un­der­stand why even the thought of go­ing some­where else seems com­pletely for­eign. She did say she would con­tin­ue her bas­ket­ball ca­reer at the next level, though she’s still un­aware of ex­actly where that will oc­cur. Far­rell also said she’s lean­ing to­ward study­ing nurs­ing, be­cause there’s something ap­peal­ing about “be­ing the one in the room help­ing pa­tients.”

Now that her mile­stone ac­com­plish­ment is out of the way, she said she really just wants to en­joy the hand­ful of games she has left with her team­mates, as well as the hand­ful of months with her class­mates, some of whom she’s known since kinder­garten.

“It is a scary thought,” she said of mov­ing on. “But it’s also ex­cit­ing to have that new chal­lenge to look for­ward to. You kind of just have to hope for the best and trust that the school you at­ten­ded for thir­teen years will pre­pare you for whatever col­lege and life throw your way.”

Though she didn’t want to get in­to spe­cif­ics, Michelle Far­rell ac­know­ledged that her young­er sis­ter had an op­por­tun­ity some­where along the line to trans­fer to a more ath­let­ic­ally revered in­sti­tu­tion. Maria po­litely de­clined, in­stead choos­ing to fin­ish what she star­ted at MaST all those years ago.

“All I’ve wanted to do is have the best seni­or year ever,” Maria said. “We won our second straight vol­ley­ball cham­pi­on­ship in the fall, and now I’m the first one to score 1,000 points. I was ac­tu­ally really nervous be­cause this was such a big deal to me.

“I just wanted to go out there, give it my best and leave everything on the court. It’s good to have more people re­cog­niz­ing our school and see­ing what we can do, both ath­let­ic­ally and in class. Every­body knows every­body here, and we just have a strong bond that can’t be broken.” ••

Sports ed­it­or Ed Mor­rone can be reached at 215-354-3035 or em­or­

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