Understanding the Student-Athlete
With Kristen Markoe of the women’s basketball team
For some people, it takes years to find what truly makes them happy. A lucky few, like Kristen Markoe, are able to discover what defines them at an early age.
From the age of six, Markoe found her niche in sports. As a young girl, she was much more active than most. She played basketball, soccer, ran track and did karate. “Basketball has been passed down through my family for generations,” Markoe said, which no doubt influenced her passion for the sport. Basketball always remained her key sport throughout high school. Her family, already affiliated with the sport, saw a young star and ensured she was discovered. “My father was the reason I started playing basketball. My parents were always very supportive, driving me all over the country for tournaments.”
The support paid off. By the end of high school, her team was named 1st Team All-Staten Island by the New York Post and the Daily News. Kristen was also recognized as a NY1 Scholar-Athlete, a prestigious title given to the best and brightest high school seniors. Excelling at both sports and academics, Markoe was accepted into the rigorous Macaulay Honors program at Hunter, in addition to being recruited for her athletic abilities.
Ray Bello, Hunter’s head volleyball coach, was the first coach to reach out to Kristen. However, Markoe chose basketball over volleyball because it was her passion from the start. As a member of the Hawks, she has earned CUNYAC Rookie of the Year, CUNYAC Rookie of the Week five times, and was named the D3Hoops.com Athletic Region Rookie of the Year.
As a little girl, Markoe always had a drive to excel. She dreamed of becoming the president, being in the WNBA and becoming a teacher. “As I’ve gotten older, I realized I wanted to stay involved in sports so I decided on becoming a physical therapist.” She plans on graduating from the Macaulay Honors College with both a major in psychology and a pre-physical therapy requirement.
Markoe holds her parents, her brother and her cousin as her primary role models and looks up to individuals such as Nicky Anosike and Steve Nash. “I admire their ability to never give up in hard times and fight through everything to be better than ever before. Every day I am motivated by the people who have accomplished more than me at the same tasks because if they can do it so can I.”
As a scholar-athlete at Hunter, there is no doubt that Markoe faces many obstacles. “My life is ridiculously hectic,” she said. A previous Brookdale resident, she was forced out of her home in Staten Island due to the damage done by Hurricane Sandy.
Very early on in her 2012-2013 season, on top of dealing with the aftereffects of Hurricane Sandy, Kristen experienced a tear of her Anterior Cruciate Ligament, or ACL, one of the most dreaded injuries an athlete can get. The injury will put a long pause on her athletic career at Hunter. “It’s very hard to deal with,” she said. “I have to prehab, do surgery, then rehab after surgery, totaling around eight and a half months off the court. But I’m determined to come back stronger and better than before.” All of these are astounding challenges for an individual, but Markoe manages to remain optimistic.
Displaying incredible courage and strength, Markoe is maintaining her obligations as both a student and a teammate. “This year is going to be rough, with adversity hitting us from every possible direction,” she said in regards to the upcoming basketball season, “but I believe the girls will come together and things will be great by the end of the season.” Showing great sportsmanship, she continues to cheer and support her team while dealing with her own difficulties. It comes as no surprise that her favorite quote comes from Katie Schubert: “Keep your head up. God only gives his hardest battles to his strongest soldiers.”
Forced to stay away from the sport that was a part of her for most of her life, Markoe certainly has some obstacles to face. However, with her level of determination, we can hope to see her back on the court sooner rather than later.