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Basketball star’s biggest assists come off the court

May 7, 2018
Al LeslieAl Leslie graduates this spring with a bachelor's degree in business—and an accomplished college basketball career. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

Three questions

Favorite University tradition? “Dandelion Day is really fun, but I loved the candlelight ceremony freshman year when I moved in.”

Favorite course? “Hitler’s Germany and Post War Europe, both taught by Thomas Fleischman. Great teacher, awesome courses.”

What advice would you give to incoming students? “Remember to have fun. School is super stressful and can become overwhelming. Find out what you’re passionate about and don’t be so stressed that you forget the other fun side of college. Be involved.”

Making their mark: This is one in a series of profiles celebrating members of Rochester’s graduating class of 2018.

As a six-foot-two center for the Rochester women’s basketball team, Alexandra Leslie ’18 was tasked with two jobs: score and rebound.

She did both well enough to earn All-America honors all four seasons and finish all-time second in program history in points (1,848) and rebounds (992).

Leslie’s assists came off the court. In high school, she and her teammates awoke early each Christmas Eve morning in her hometown of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and helped deliver 1,500 meals to low-income families. She also worked with special needs students at a pediatrics center. And in college she joined the University’s St. Sebastian Society, sponsored by the Catholic Newman Community, and tutors students in the Rochester City School District each week.

“I’ve always loved helping others,” says Leslie, known as “Al” by friends and family. “Even with school ending, I’d love to find ways to keep helping others.”

Leslie will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in business and hopes to land a job where her interpersonal skills will shine. Her dream is to work her way into a high leadership role in a company.

Leslie learned about the University through her friend and former high school teammate Michelle Relin ’16, who played basketball for one season at Rochester but made her mark as one of the school’s greatest field hockey players.

“Michelle told me I should come to Rochester, and she told [women’s basketball coach] Jim Scheible, ‘You want this girl,’ ” Leslie says. “I loved the campus when I visited. It’s so beautiful. I still walk around the quads when I want to clear my head.”

Scheible knew Leslie was the real deal when he saw her play in high school, and she didn’t disappoint at Rochester, ranking first or second in 10 career categories. “I don’t think I’ve ever coached someone as poised and composed as Al,” Scheible says. “She ended up being everything I hoped and more.”

Leslie led the Yellowjackets to the NCAA Division III Tournament three times, including spots in the national quarterfinals her sophomore and senior years. She twice was a finalist for the Jostens Trophy, awarded to a Division III women’s player based on basketball ability, academic prowess, and community service.

“She re-elevated our program back to the national stage and made everyone else better,” Scheible says. “She’s a once-in-a-generation player.”

After four grinding years of studying and basketball, Leslie plans to enjoy some time off before pursuing a career in business. “My mom is from Sweden, and they take a year off after high school and college,” Leslie says. “I’m all for that.”

She knows one thing: whatever she winds up doing, community service will be in her game plan. “It’s something I love,” she says. “And it’s something that will always be part of my life.”

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