It came as no surprise that AnnMarie Healy scored her 1,000th point recently as a member of the Providence Academy girls basketball team.
Needing only 164 points at the start of the season to get there, her 12.5 scoring average per game suggested it would happen sometime in January.
In fact, she is such a prolific and efficient scorer that her coaches were able to predict the exact game in which she would reach the milestone — Jan. 6 against Brooklyn Center. Sure enough, she got there in the first half of her team’s 68-28 win, with fans holding up congratulatory signs when she hit 1,000.
“It was a really fun night,” said the 6-foot senior. “I played the first half, scored the 1,000th point, then sat on the bench the whole second half.”
That time on the bench gave her a chance to think about the answer to this question: What would she do with the $1,000 that came with her achievement?
Knowing she was approaching the mark, an anonymous donor came forward and told school officials that a donation of $1,000 would be made to the charity of Healy’s choice after she achieved the milestone. For that reason, assistant coach, and former head coach, Kurt Jaeger sat Healy down for a talk early in the season.
Humility trumps skills
It was then that he witnessed an example of an attribute that rivaled her skills with a basketball — humility.
“My exact words to her were, ‘AnnMarie, I just wanted to let you know that you’re closing in on a milestone and I want to talk to you about that a little bit,’” he said. “And, her response to me was she had no idea what milestone I was talking about.
After hearing that she was approaching 1,000 points, “Her immediate reaction to me was, ‘Oh, we don’t want to make a big deal out of that. I don’t score unless I have teammates that pass me the ball.’
That’s just her, to a ‘T.’ That’s just her personality,” Jaeger said.
As Healy turned her thoughts toward charities, several came to mind. The winner, thanks, in part to her uncle, Father Andrew Cozzens of the St. Paul Seminary, was the Handmaids of the Heart of Jesus in the Diocese of New Ulm. Father Cozzens helped the sisters form the order in 2010, then introduced his niece to them.
“I prayed about it and I just thought it would be the best decision,” Healy said. “They are building a new convent for themselves and I thought this [$1,000 gift] would benefit them.”
Said Father Cozzens: “It certainly makes me proud to be her uncle. She didn’t tell me she was doing this. I found out when Mother Mary Clare [Roufs, leader of the order] called me and said, ‘Do you know what your niece AnnMarie is doing?’”
Open to religious vocation
A bond was formed when the sisters invited Healy and a friend to join them on a trip to New York. She got to see firsthand how the nine women, ranging in age from 24 to 32, are giving their lives fully to God and the church.
“It’s inspiring to see such young, beautiful women willing to dedicate themselves to Christ and give themselves completely to him,” Healy said.
Hearing her describe the sisters so positively naturally prompts a question about her own vocation.
“So, am I going to be a nun?” she said. “I am definitely open to that calling. I’m not afraid of that. I will leave it up to him [God]. They [sisters] have never pressured me to do anything. I still love to visit them. Going with them to New York was an unforgettable experience.”
The next journey she hopes to take is to the Target Center later this month for the state girls basketball tournament. Providence Academy went last year and lost in the semifinals to eventual state champion Braham, which likely would stand in the Lions’ path again this year. But, Jaeger likes his team’s chances, this year, with the five starters averaging between eight and 12.5 points a game.
“We’ve been the preseason No. 1 in [Class] AA this year and we have remained there all year,” he said. “But the concept that we play within is there are really no stars. We want everyone to contribute and do what they can to help the team.”
Meeting life’s challenges
And, Healy’s role is to be the go-to player when the game is on the line. It’s a natural expectation given her talent and poise under pressure.
“Time and score don’t mean anything to her,” Jaeger said. “She knows what her role is, she knows what her job is, and she’ll do that the same way with all the pressure in the world on her as she will the first shot attempt of the game. I think that’s part of her gift. She only has one gear when it comes to competing, and it’s just full throttle all the time.”
Come fall, Healy will take that full-throttle attitude out east to Harvard. She turned down basketball scholarship offers from several schools, plus turned down schools that seemed to be a good fit for her Catholic faith. However, a visit to Harvard convinced her that her faith not only would be welcomed, but that she would be in good company there.
“I went to the student Mass at Harvard and it was packed full with college students; the priest gave an awesome homily,” she said. “The youth ministry is really strong and active. There are Bible studies and [eucharistic] adoration four times a week. There definitely is a light [of faith] at Harvard.
“In anything I have done, I have not chosen the easy path. Harvard will definitely challenge me academically. But the best things usually come out of hard work and sweat.”