Northern Star: Laila Monroe
For this week's segment, we feature a senior on the Duluth Marshall basketball team who is ready to fill some big shoes and leave her own legacy within the program.
DULUTH, Minn. – Once Duluth Marshall senior forward Laila Monroe started attending Starks Academy in middle school, the rest of her basketball career was set.
“It’s crazy how fast it went by. I remember it was like yesterday I was first coming to Marshall. I’ve seen myself get better through Starks Academy, that’s where I found Marshall. I was introduced to CJ later on that summer and I found Grace and Gianna, Dasia Starks, we worked out pretty much religiously every week and I started to love it and found myself getting better,” Monroe said.
When she got to Marshall, Monroe got to play with two of the best to do it there in Grace Kirk and Gianna Kneepkens.
“Grace taught me a lot of leadership, she’s probably one of my closest friends. Gianna taught me heart of the game so playing with them the past three years really taught me a lot about the game of basketball,” Monroe said.
Now, Monroe is taking what she’s learned from that duo as she tries to lead a very young Hilltoppers team.
“She’s kind of taken a mix of both. She’s taken Grace’s on the court fierceness not being afraid to hold people accountable, but she’s also taken Gianna’s niceness and humbleness in a sense that she doesn’t really care about stats, she’s just trying to win,” Duluth Marshall head coach CJ Osuchukwu said.
But now Monroe is also ready to take on that spotlight.
“My personal goals this year is obviously being a threat on the court, I think I have a lot to prove. Obviously playing with Grace and Gianna for a long time, it’s almost like a shadow. They’re so great it’s hard to be something like them but with this season, it’s a new platform, bringing a team together, being a leader and showing what my team can do, what I can do myself,” Monroe said.
“Laila has always been herself and that’s something I’ve always loved about her. She’s a great leader, great person, great kid to be around,” Osuchukwu added.
So far this season, Monroe is averaging eight rebounds and 11 points a game, one of three players on the team averaging double digit points.
“Laila’s the true definition of self made. She’s a grinder. You give her expectations and she goes and meet that, and she goes over those,” Osuchukwu said.
As Monroe continues to lead this young team to potentially a third straight section title, she also has her eyes set on playing at the collegiate level, because she wants to show that Marshall basketball is here to stay, and she’s no longer in a shadow.
“This program has definitely made me a very strong person, especially mentally. CJ, he pushes us every day, he wants the best for us. I’d be able to continue my love for basketball and prove a point to some people because I feel like I have something to prove,” Monroe said.