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Brie Pergola. This former Raider is making a name for herself at UNH on the hardwood.

POSTED April 28, 2020
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

Brie Pergola

It was obvious to me the first time I crossed paths with Torrington native Brie Pergola that two things were apparent.

One, her hardwood skills far exceeded her age (a freshman at the time) and tow, I wasn’t sure if she was ever going to say more than five words during any subsequent interview.

To say that Pergola was shy and unassuming at the time would be the understatement of understatements. She was painfully shy.

How shy you ask?

Well, I’ll tell you. For most of her first year playing for Mike Fritch and the Raiders, she had her own spokesperson, Paige Middleton.

I kid you not. When reporters would approach Pergola after a game that she had played well in, her good friend and senior would help her get through the sessions, which didn’t last too long.

Pergola would much rather let her work on the hardwood speak for itself and in the years since those interviews, the now junior at the University of New Haven has come out of her shell and while we’ll never claim she loves being questioned, she’s far more comfortable.

During her four years with Torrington, the multi-talented Pergola was a superb facilitator, her court vision was tremendous at a very early age and finding teammates her specialty.

The Raiders won the Naugatuck Valley League title during her sophomore year, a campaign that saw Torrington post an impressive 19-1 regular season mark before beating rival Holy Cross in a thrilling NVL final at a packed Sacred Heart gymnasium, something Pergola speaks to in her answers that follow.

Torrington beat the Crusaders by a 56-55 final that night behind a 20-point effort from Pergola that also saw the then tenth grader beat the vaunted Holy Cross press by herself most of the night, no easy effort.

Her work in high school earned her All-State honors twice with All-NVL honors two years as well. 

Flash forward to this season and as of early February of 2020, Pergola had helped her Chargers post a 14-6 mark in the New East 10 conference and is a critical part of the New Haven effort, as she has been since arriving three years ago.

In her freshman year, Pergola was named to the NE-10 All Rookie team and made the Commissioners Honor Roll.   

Her sophomore year saw Pergola start all 30 games for the Chargers at the point, averaging close to eight points per game.

This season, she is averaging 10 points per game and is second in minutes played.

The Pergola family now has two girls playing, one at the collegiate level (Brie) and another at the high school level (Leah), meaning to parents (Dean and Sherrie) splitting duties at times in order to see both athletes perform.

Older brother Luke was a standout basketball player at Oliver Wolcott Tech and remains active with the Torrington Police Athletic League.

This family’s dedication to each other is unwavering, as is the effort they get from each member in all aspects of life.

Find out more about Brie Pergola in the questions answered below.  

When did you start playing basketball?

I started when I was in 5th grade.

Did you play any other sports during your younger years?

I mostly did gymnastics in my younger years, but I really did not like having to wear the leotards, so I decided to try basketball instead.

When did basketball become the one?

When I first began to play, I was really bad. The game started to click with me in 7th-8th grade and I think that’s when I knew it was the one.

Did you spend a lot of time in either the OWTS or THS gyms when you were in grammar/middle school?

I spent most of my time in the OWTS gym growing up because my father works there, and they always allowed us to use the gym whenever we pleased.

When did you start playing competitively?

I started playing competitively in 6th grade. I had joined my first AAU team, called Connecticut Spirit.

What position did you play?

I played the wing position so “2” guard and point guard.

Did your parents coach you at some point?

My father coached me up until high school. He coached my travel team throughout elementary and middle school and coached my AAU team a few years.

What girls did you grow up playing with who eventually played with you in high school?

I played with Alexis Tyrrell, Sidnee Kovall, Sara Bardwell, and Colleen Kilgore. We all started 6th grade PAL with one another and then continued playing together through high school.

What do you love about the game?

I love the feeling that comes with making a good play or winning a big game. I also love the people that the game has introduced me to.

Talk about the season you won the NVL's in that crazy game at Sacred Heart against Holy Cross.

If I am being completely honest, I really do not remember a lot about the overall season. But I do remember the game and the crowd. I had never played in such an intense game before so at the time it felt amazing. The gym was so small, and it was packed with our fans and Holy Cross fans. Everyone went crazy after each bucket made, the atmosphere was surreal. Winning that game was a feeling I had never experienced, it felt great to finally come out on top after putting in so many hours in the gym.

How did you stay strong when you got hurt in high school?

When I got hurt in high school, I knew that the recovery was going to be only a couple of months so that kept me pretty positive throughout that process. I knew I would be back for AAU which was crucial at that time because junior year is a big recruiting year for athletes.

When looking at colleges, which ones were on your list? 

I was looking at Assumption College, Eckerd College and obviously the University of New Haven. I narrowed it down to Assumption and UNH and then decided UNH was the best fit for me.

What made you decide on New Haven?

The coaching staff is what mostly influenced me to make my decision. I also really enjoyed the campus and how the class sizes weren’t too big. I knew how much my family liked to come to my games, so the distance was perfect for that as well.

What are you majoring in?

I am majoring in Business Management.

What's the biggest difference between high school and college play? 

The biggest difference is the speed of the game and the level of intensity that people play with. I remember my first scrimmage as a freshman against Yale, I was in shock at how fast pace the game was, and it was going to take some adjusting to get used to.

Future Plans?

As of right now, I am looking to get in internship this summer to help me narrow down maybe what I want to do in the future. But that is all the plans I have for right now because I am still not sure which direction I want to head in for work.

What is your ideal job?

My ideal job is anything that I am happy to wake up in the morning and do.

Do you see yourself coaching down the line?

I find this hard to answer because I am stuck in the middle. If I were to coach, I would most likely stick with the younger grades because I enjoy teaching the fundamentals of the game. (Something I think some kids lack these days).

Your parents are amazing supporters of all thing’s family and community. How have they helped you become the person you are today?

They have always supported me and were always there when needed which I am forever thankful for. Having their love and support unconditionally, is what shaped me to be the person I am today.

I'm seeing some good things from Leah. How good can she get? 

Leah plays with a type of passion and intensity that many athletes lack. Those are two traits that cannot be taught, and I think that will help her go far. As a big sister, I will say she has a lot to work on before she can beat me one on one.

Were you competitive with your brother Luke growing up? 

As I have grown up, I have become way more competitive. When I was younger, I never wanted to play one on one with Luke because he always went super hard and it would get me mad. But I would occasionally accept his challenge to a game of horse or pig. But now, I would gladly take him one on one and see what he can do.

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