New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

In the Huddle: Belle Pellecchia on NYU women’s basketball

Belle Pellecchia, the junior guard for NYU women’s basketball team, spoke to WSN about her hopes for the new season for the athletics department as a whole.
Krish Dev
NYU women’s basketball guard Belle Pellecchia. (Krish Dev for WSN)

Junior Belle Pellecchia is a guard and captain on the undefeated NYU women’s basketball team, who has made program history with 22 consecutive victories. She’s been a top scorer in the last 9 games and is the reigning ​​UAA Defensive Player of the Year and Second Team All-UAA.  She was selected for the Region 4 First Team and played all 28 games, 27 as a starter.  

Pellecchia is from Mendham, New Jersey and is double majoring in journalism and environmental studies as well as minoring in child and adolescent mental health studies. 

In an interview with WSN, Pellecchia spoke about her journey.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

WSN: What’s the difference between the team’s energy this season and last season?

Pellecchia: For one, we’re extremely excited, and I don’t want to say surprised about how well we’re doing, but super grateful. It’s a testament to how hard we worked and how much we’ve grown as a program over the last couple of years. We always knew we had it in us — we had the right talent and the right pieces, but in these last couple of games, our chemistry and everything we’ve worked for is finally coming together. 

The women’s basketball team finished in the Elite Eight, the final eight teams in the NCAA, last year and equalled the fifth-most wins in program history, finishing 25-3. 

Pellecchia attributes the experience on the team — starting three graduate students, one senior and a junior in the game — to the team’s success this year. 

WSN: It can be easy to rest on your laurels seeing this kind of success early on in the season. How are you and the team staying vigilant?

Pellecchia: Our coaches always say phrases like, ‘It’s everybody’s Super Bowl to play us.’ A lot of teams don’t have much to lose when they play us, so they’re going to bring everything they have. We can be confident in our skills and our ability and have confidence in each other as a team, but there’s no reason to become complacent and not respect another opponent. 

WSN: How do the high stakes make you feel?

Pellecchia: There are always some nerves — I think that’s natural. If there wasn’t nerves, I would almost think there was something wrong. The nerves mean you’re passionate and excited about the game and what’s about to happen. But the second the ball tips off and we’re playing, I have so much confidence in the players’ skill sets and their abilities, even if I’m not having my best game or the opposing team is lights out not missing a shot. It just comes with playing with each other for so long and having, like you said, so much success with each other. We’ve won so many games as a team that it’s very easy to say, “I know my teammates have my back. We’ve been here before and we can do it again.”

A woman wearing a purple N.Y.U. jersey dribbles a basketball in front of another woman in a white and blue jersey.
(Krish Dev for WSN)

Pellecchia says having the former athletic director Stuart Robinson break ties with the university didn’t affect the team. She says Jason Pina – NYU’s senior vice president for university life — has done a great job of “putting out the fire.” 

WSN: What do you think needs to change in the athletics department? 

Pellecchia: It’s upsetting and hopefully, the athletic department as a whole realizes that there are some serious changes that they need to make about who they hire and who gets delegated what work, because a lot of times that work is not getting done, and it’s making it harder on the student-athletes. It’s also character-building — it makes you tougher as a team. Women’s basketball, for example, obviously gets a lot of social media attention and the department does care about us. But there are other teams that the department doesn’t necessarily show attention towards or give them the things that are necessary for their sport, which is really upsetting to watch happen.

While focusing on academics and athletics simultaneously can be tough, Pellecchia credits her ability to balance both to her peers and teammates. She found communicating with her coaches and teammates — who go through the same things as her — to be helpful in getting through the academic year.

WSN: What’s your favorite memory from playing on the team?

Pellecchia: My freshman year, we made it to the Elite Eight in NCAA and we lost to Hope College in Holland, Michigan. They’re a women’s basketball school — kids growing up in Holland have the aspiration to go play women’s basketball at Hope. Their arena is ridiculous. I remember stepping onto the court and thinking, ‘there’s not a single chance we’re gonna win this game but we’re gonna lose with dignity.’ They had like a thousand fans there and it was all locals that were obsessed with the women’s basketball team. This year, the new gym is built, and we finally play home games at the Paulson Center in our own gym. And now we have all this talent, and we’re all juniors and seniors and grad students who have had all this experience under our belt. We’ve become that team that I was so enamored by and wanted to be — that’s what our program has become. It’s kind of a full circle moment. 

WSN: In what aspect have you grown the most since joining The Violets? 

Pellecchia: My leadership skills have grown immensely. I came in as a shy, timid first-year who didn’t want to step on any toes. Through the program and my coaches and my teammates, I have become more confident not only in basketball but in life in general. Those leadership skills I learned on the court have translated to the classroom and job interviews. 

Contact Sydney Barragan at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Sydney Barragan
Sydney Barragan, Sports Editor
Sydney Barragan is a senior majoring in Journalism and Public Policy. She spends her free time reading, rewatching the same TV shows and talking about the Dodgers. Find her on Instagram @sydneybarragan.
Krish Dev
Krish Dev, Multimedia Editor
Krish is a first-year planning to major in Computer Science and Linguistics at CAS. In his free time, he enjoys posting photos on @krish_dev.creations, obsessing over geography, watching new films with friends, taking public transport to new places and letting Arsenal make or break his week.

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