When Ray Barile talks about the humbling early days of Horace Mann senior guard Jane Frankel, it’s not hyperbole.
“She could barely dribble a basketball when she was a freshman,” the girls basketball coach said. “Really, she couldn’t.”
And Frankel, well she couldn’t disagree.
“He does like to embellish the truth a little bit, he’s a character in that sense,” Frankel said. “But for this particular story, he was pretty accurate. My dad always used to joke with me that basketball was the one sport that I could never really get the hang of. So my freshman year I was just riding the bench and happy to be on the team. I was learning a lot from my teammates, particularly in terms of leadership.
“But, yeah, I could barely bounce a basketball.”
But Frankel had a burning desire to succeed on the court, and it was some impromptu workout sessions with a former teammate during that first year that helped jump start her basketball career.
“During my free periods one of the captains on the team, Jen Reese, and I would go to the gym to shoot,” Frankel said.
“I’d rebound for her and shoot with her a little bit, and we did that just about every day. That definitely sparked the passion in me for basketball, and I started putting in a lot more effort. It all helped give me a better feel for the game.”
Then by her sophomore year, Frankel found herself in a starting role.
And her career blossomed from there straight through to this past season, Frankel’s last at Horace Mann when she was named to the All-Ivy League Second Team.
If the freshman version of Frankel had the chance to see the senior version, the younger benchwarmer would have never believed it.
“Oh no, never,” Frankel said. “I never thought about anything like that happening.”
But with high school now in the rearview mirror, Frankel is set to tackle her next challenge — attending the esteemed University of Virginia in the fall.
“I never really expected to end up at Virginia,” Frankel said. “But I visited it one day and I just fell in love with the energy and the spirit at the school, and obviously the sports there are great.”
It was that draw of being part of big-time college athletics, even as a fan, that also played a part in Frankel’s decision.
“At first in my college search I wasn’t particularly looking for a school with great athletics,” Frankel said, “but then I thought that might be a lot of fun. I had a great sports career at Horace Mann, but it’s not ever been the most spirited school. So to have that aspect in college I think will be awesome. And there is also so much history at that school as well.”
And while Frankel has no plans to play for the Cavaliers’ women’s team, she said she still has an outlet to satisfy her sports cravings.
“I think I’m going to try out for club basketball and maybe club soccer as well,” Frankel said. “And going to football games and basketball games, I’m really excited for that, too.”
Frankel had one last activity to complete at Horace Mann when she performed with the school’s glee club last week — in Hawaii.
“It was sort of a trip for the whole music department,” Frankel said. “Our choral director is a native Hawaiian and he took us around and showed us some of the sights and we met some of his family. We also did a bunch of performances in Honolulu.”
Not a bad way to end her long affiliation with Horace Mann.
“I’ve been at Horace Mann since kindergarten, so it’s been the biggest thing in my life,” Frankel said. “So I’m definitely sad to be moving on from that. But I’m also excited for my future in college.”
But there is a little angst in leaving the sports programs at Horace Mann that have been such an integral part of her life.
“I honestly think my best memories have been playing sports,” Frankel said.
“I was coached by Ray Barile and I had a great coach in soccer in Tim Sullivan. And basically we became a family on those teams because the connections were so strong. I had the best experience I could have possibly had.”