by Tom Utescher
Last Tuesday afternoon, Germantown Academy officially announced its 2008-2018 All-Decade Team, and on that list of elite Patriots players was guard Jaryn Garner. Four days later over on City Line, Garner was playing one of the final games of her college career for St. Joseph’s University.
A reserve guard, Garner helped the Hawks recover from a lackluster first half and run away from City Series rival La Salle University in the fourth quarter, winning 70-49. It was the GA grad’s next-to-last appearance at St. Joe’s Michael J. Hagan Arena, and Garner’s path through her collegiate basketball career has had some twists and turns.
She graduated from GA in 2012, a two-time First Team All-Inter-Ac League selection and an All-State pick as a senior. Signing with the University of Virginia, she appeared in 42 games in her freshman and sophomore seasons. Injury difficulties curtailed her career at UVA, and she eventually decided to transfer to St. Joseph’s, where she was eligible to play in the 2016-17 season.
Appearing in all 32 games and starting in 12, she led the team in assists last winter, with 74. She had already earned an undergraduate degree, and because her playing status was unclear for the 2017-18 campaign, she completed the requirements to earn her Master’s degree in Healthcare Administration during the fall semester. She petitioned the NCAA for one more year of eligibility, and the process was ultimately successful.
“It was an uphill battle, but eventually the appeal went through,” she said, praising administrators at St. Joe’s and at UVA for helping move the process along. “I missed pre-season and the first game, but then I was back.”
Once, there was another guard. Cindy Anderson, now Cindy Griffin, was the floor marshal for the highly-successful Bishop McDevitt High School franchise of the mid and late 1980’s. After helping lead the Lancers to a pair of Philadelphia Catholic League titles, she graduated in 1987 and moved on to play at St. Joseph’s, where she was a three-time team captain.
She served as an assistant coach in several collegiate programs and then ascended to the head coaching position at Loyola University. Griffin was named head coach at St. Joseph’s in 2001, three years after she was inducted into her alma mater’s Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.
When Germantown Academy’s All-Decade Team was announced early last week, Garner, Griffin and the rest of the Hawks were on the road to North Carolina, where they would pull out a 64-62 Atlantic 10 Conference victory over Davidson College.
Returning home, they prepared for Saturday’s rematch against A-10 rival La Salle, which had fallen to the Hawks, 75-64, in the teams’ official Big Five square-off back in late January.
“We play them a lot, so they know us and we know them,” Garner related. “We came out a little flat, which probably had something to do with being a little distracted with our Senior Day.”
St. Joe’s owned a modest four-point deficit at the end of the first quarter (15-11), then La Salle, which had its way down in the paint in the middle of the second quarter, raised its lead to as high as 11 points. The Hawks took a little back at the end, and the count at the intermission was 35-29, still in favor of the Explorers.
Led by eight points from forward Amanda Fioravanti, a graduate student playing through petition like Garner, St. Joseph went ahead in the third round and held a 49-47 edge heading into the fourth quarter. With a 19-0 surge by the Hawks in the first six-and-a-half minutes of the final round, it was lights out for the Explorers.
Garner, who appeared for a total of 10 minutes in a ball-handling and defensive role, explained, “We picked it up on ‘D’ in the second half. The fourth quarter was 21-2; that’s what defense does.”
Junior swing player Sarah Veilleux recorded a game-high 19 points and senior forward Chelsea Woods chalked up 17 points and a team-high nine rebounds. Fioravanti finished with 12 points, and the other Hawk to score in double figures was junior guard Alyssa Monaghan, who posted 10 points and a game-high five assists.
It was a good week for the Hawks and for Garner, who was pleased to learn of her selection for the All-Decade Team back at Germantown Academy.
“I couldn’t be at the ceremony because we were on the road,” she said, “but it’s definitely an honor to be part of that team when you look at the other people who are on it.”
The youngest members of the elite group are current GA seniors who will soon be embarking upon the journey that Garner is about to finish.
What would Garner say to these young players about to make the transition from high school to college basketball?
“Be a sponge,” she stated. “Whether you’re playing at first or not, take in all the information that you can. It’s a quick four years; use it as a learning opportunity, an opportunity to get better.
“Get to know your academic advisors and your professors,” she continued. “Use your resources, the study halls and the other things that every school has built into their athletic program. Smart time management is going to become your best friend.”
She offered the encouragement that, “If you can handle a GA education, you can tackle college. The rigor in the academics that you find at a school like GA is very similar to what you’re going to get in college, and the teachers lay the foundation that prepares you for it.”
She pointed out, “Obviously, the athletic preparation at GA is good, as well. We played a good schedule that included a lot of strong teams outside of our league, and outside of our state. I would say that overall I felt very well prepared going on to UVA, and then St. Joseph’s.”
Although she’s decided what field she’ll focus on in the workplace, Garner will have a number of actual employment options to consider.
“My background is probably going to lead to my being in some kind of hospital setting,” she commented. “I’ll see if I have a chance to intertwine sports with it somehow. I’ll see where things lead me.”