Alumni Athlete Focus: Garrett Leffelman, St. Joseph High School

We’re starting a new feature on The Doings that looks at alumni from our area’s various high schools that played sports at the major college and/or pro levels. This edition features St. Joseph High School basketball player Garrett Leffelman, a 2007 graduate.

Birthplace: Naperville

Current profession: Investment Banking

College: Brown University (Class of 2011)

Age: 25 

Q. When did you start playing your sport and why?

A. As long as I can remember, basketball has been a meaningful part of who I am. Over the years, the game’s role in my life has evolved as I’ve grown up. What started out as a fun childhood activity grew into a passion that ultimately provided door-opening, life changing opportunities. Today, basketball has come full circle for me and remains a favorite pastime.

Q. What did you enjoy most about playing at your high school?

A. Without a doubt, I most enjoyed the spotlight that went with playing at St. Joseph. Every aspect of the game represented the pinnacle of the sport – playing for a legendary coach in such a storied program, training alongside teammates that would go on to dominate the college and professional ranks and competing against nationally ranked talent in front of standing-room only crowds.

Q. At what point did you realize you’d be able to play in college (and the pros, if applicable)?

A. In between my junior and senior years of high school is when I knew for sure that I would get the opportunity to play at the Division I level. It was during this time that I started receiving a lot of interest from several Ivy League basketball programs. Towards the end of my college career at Brown, I was contacted by a few professional agencies looking to possibly represent me in Europe. Even though I did not pursue the offers, I knew the opportunity to play professionally was there.

Q. What was the transition like between playing in high school and in college?

A. Just like starting a new job, or moving on to a new position, the transition from playing in high school to college was challenging. The new environment made me prove myself from the beginning. However, coming from St. Joseph, I recognized that I was better prepared compared to many other student-athletes at Brown. The work ethic I developed and intensity with which I competed with for four years at St. Joseph allowed me to excel on the court and in the classroom at Brown.

Q. Did you have a mentor/s that helped you along the way? If so, tell us a little about him/her.

A. I was fortunate to have had many people throughout my career that went out of their way to help me. My freshman coach at St. Joseph, Brandon Aldridge, really gave me the opportunity to thrive and start my career off in the best way possible. He was always a great friend and mentor to talk to through the highs and lows of high school. My AAU coach, Jim Delany, taught me how to carry myself on the court and as a leader of a team. He was responsible for instilling in me the confident shooter’s mentality that good players pick up over time. Varsity coach Gene Pingatore prepared me and my teammates extraordinarily well for the rigors and intensity of college basketball. Finally, my greatest mentor has always been my father. He’s been the constant guiding force in my life helping to point me in the right direction at every turn.

Q. What are you doing now and does anything you learned in sports at St. Joe’s still impact you today?

A. I’ve worked on Wall Street in finance the past three years and, while the sources of pressure have changed quite a bit, each week my endurance, concentration and leadership skills are tested in this environment. The basketball program at St. Joseph surely demands a lot of its players in terms of time, effort, energy and focus. Yet, I believe the work ethic I honed at St. Joseph carried me through college and still drives me today.

Q. Looking back on your experience from St. Joe’s through your current situation, is there anything you would change?

A. Hindsight is 20/20. I certainly did not realize it at the time as an 8th grader, but without question, choosing to attend St. Joseph High School was the best decision of the first 25 years of my life. I firmly believe that St. Joseph changed my path in life and I wouldn’t change or trade my experience from high school to now. Go Chargers!

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