Sabrina Weeks is always looking for new ways to stay ahead of the curve, whether in the classroom or on the court. After a frustrating injury, the junior guard has gradually worked herself back into the rotation for the surging women’s basketball team.
In this edition of Panther Profile, the Los Altos, California, native talks about her NESCAC family rivalry, her most memorable basketball-related moment, and her interest in practicing medicine.
How did you find your way to Middlebury from the west coast?
My father swam at Williams, so when I started thinking about colleges, he suggested I look at schools on the east coast like Middlebury. Coming from the Bay Area, I really only knew about Middlebury’s academic reputation. But when I visited, I immediately loved the campus and the people, and knew it would be a place I’d feel at home and be pushed to be better. My aunt and uncle also went to Williams and Amherst, so when I chose Middlebury, there was some friendly trash talk being thrown around.
When did you first develop an interest in basketball?
I have loved the game of basketball since I was little; even when I was eight or nine, I was always called a gym rat. When I got to middle school I realized how much I preferred it to other sports, and knew I wanted to play as long as possible.
Describe your most memorable moment in the gym.
There are definitely a lot of memorable games and moments, but there was one game when I was in sixth grade at a tournament in Reno that I really remember. It was one of my first travel tournaments, and in the first game we were down 20 and then came back to win it. In the grand scheme of things, it is such a small game, but it was the first time I really loved that tournament atmosphere and felt so proud to be on the team.
You have been sidelined for portions of two seasons due to an injury, but now you are back. How does it feel?
Any athlete who has been injured knows what it feels like when you can’t be out there playing. I have been lucky with my teammates and the coaches and trainers at Middlebury supporting me from day one and helping me every step of the way.
How have you balanced your academic class load with your athletic schedule?
It’s always challenging, but I have learned how to prioritize and actually prefer when we are busiest during the season. It also helps that at Middlebury there are so many other athletes balancing similar schedules.
What activities do you participate in when you’re off the court?
I am currently in the process of getting my Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) license, and this spring I’ll be able to volunteer at the EMS station in Middlebury, as well as join the college's Emergency Response Team. Through the women’s basketball team, I've also worked with the community, specifically the Sisters in Sport program. We always have so much fun; once a year the middle school team comes to one of our practices and goes through all our drills with us. Then practice ends with a game of knock-out—which I have to say, the middle-schoolers won this year! And when I am home in California, I coach youth basketball camps and teams with my club.
As a molecular biology and biochemistry major, you were chosen to be one of 12 interns last summer at the Fogarty Institute in Silicon Valley. Please tell us about your experience.
The Fogarty Institute for Innovation is a medical device incubator where I learned about the “medtech ecosystem” and worked with biomedical engineers, interventional cardiologists, surgeons, and dozens of others operating at the intersection of medicine and technology. I specifically worked with the company InPress to create new iterations of their device that stops postpartum hemorrhage.
My first few days with InPress, I was given a crash course in the pathophysiology of childbirth. I became fluent in the current global protocols and products for postpartum hemorrhage—which was as difficult as any course I have yet to take at Middlebury. I spent the majority of my time working directly with the company’s manager of emerging markets, and using the institute’s contacts and resources to gather information about global health care systems.
I also took a trip to the company’s engineering and manufacturing headquarters in San Louis Obispo, where I spent two days brainstorming new designs with the engineers. Because the product is aimed at international markets and primarily low-income facilities, trying to accomplish all of the different requirements in one simple, cost effective product was a unique challenge! We had lectures weekly from incredible physicians, shadowed and observed surgeries, and made site visits all over the Bay Area to companies like Johnson and Johnson’s JLabs and the CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery Systems.
What are your plans for the future?
Following graduation, I hope to continue working in the medical field, possibly as an EMT or in a neuroimmunological research lab, before continuing onto medical school. I am not certain just yet where I want to go for medical school. Having experienced Middlebury and all four seasons while here, I would love to stay on the east coast and enjoy the winter for a few more years!
Note - The inserted photo above shows Sabrina (far right) alongside Dr. Fogarty and two other interns last summer in one of the doctor's old workshops. (photo provided by Sabrina Weeks)