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Former Bear Sydney Eggleton learning life in the Big East

HARTFORD – On a winter Wednesday morning Sydney Eggleton stood on the floor of the empty and cavernous XL Center in Hartford as her Seton Hall teammates went through their morning shoot-around for that night’s game against UConn. The significance of when and where was front and center for the red-shirt freshman as she experienced another special step in the realization of a dream.

“It was surreal,” Eggleton said. “I went to UConn games as a kid and dreamed of playing there. It was great to be there and in Connecticut. I saw a lot of people I knew. It’s going to be really great when I get to play there next year.”

Later on that night with proud parents  looking on, Eggleton sat on the bench, this time more than 14,000 people providing an atmosphere and adding an energy symbolic of UConn.

“I’ve been in that crowd but it’s different on the floor,” Eggleton said. “The energy was what you would expect, kind of like state championship games at Mohegan. It was surreal.”

The former Thomaston High All-Stater and only the school’s third ever female Division I basketball player along with Casey Carangelo and Tanya Ramos has been learning the Big East life as she recovers from a serious knee injury.

Eggleton left Thomaston after her junior year in 2021 to attend The Peddie School in Highstown, New Jersey and further her basketball career. She ended up tearing her meniscus and part of the cartilage in her right knee during the summer of that year. After an operation she went on to average 15.6 points with several impressive performances including a 35-point, 17 rebound effort against Mercersberg Academy and a 25-point, nine rebound game against Highstown.

However, Eggleton reinjured the knee in late 2022 with subsequent examinations revealing that both the meniscus and cartilage hadn’t healed correctly causing inflammation and swelling. On Mar., 2023 she had surgery to repair the damage.

Since then Eggleton has been rehabbing.

“It’s been a very long process and we hit some roadblocks, Eggleton explained. “I lost 80-90 percent muscle strength in my right leg. After I graduated Peddie (spring 2023) I went immediately to Seton Hall and started doing summer workouts. We were behind and there was still a lot pain. Trying to do rehab in the first months was like waking up the morning after surgery.”

That was then and this is now. Eggleton is close to being 100 percent. She figures that it may be less than a month she will be there. Right now she is doing full speed workouts with no contact.

“I’m doing full running and jumping within the last two months, “Eggleton said. “The big thing has been building up the muscles in the leg. “

In the meantime Eggleton has been on the sidelines supporting the team, scouting, focusing on the tam and working on some drills. Just recently she started doing the team non-contact drills.  The 5-foot-11 Eggleton is in peak condition and ready to go.

“If this was November, (Sydney) would be playing,” Seton Hall coach Anthony Bozzella said. “She is going to be a big part of our team next year.”

The Pirates, who are currently 15-11, are expected to lose nine players from the current roster to graduation

While Eggleton is counting the days until her turn comes on the court, she has appreciated the chance to watch what will be.

“Sitting out has been one of the best things for me,” she said. “I’ve gotten to see the level of play at Peddie it was nowhere near what this is. It is completely different. The level of aggressiveness I’m excited for, that is part of my game. And the pace is up there. I’m excited for it. We play a lot of good teams. “

Eggleton will be spending much of her summer at Seton Hall in preparation for next season. She will go through summer workouts and team bonding starting in late May and early June as a fully-cleared player.

Eggleton is a long way from Thomaston High. She is realizing the dream. Next step is on the court. And she can’t wait.

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