Somerville Local Basketball Star In NCAA Title Game

  

Melissa Baptista is a Somerville resident and graduate of Somerville High School who is now a sophomore starter for the Jumbos. Melissa has been a dominant force in the playoffs, helping Tufts advance to their first Division III title game by scoring 23 of the Jumbos’ 57 points to defeat Scranton in Elite Eight tournament play (http://gotuftsjumbos.com/sports/wbkb/2015-16/releases/semifinal_preview). In the semi-final, Baptista scored 14 points and led the Jumbos with 12 rebounds (http://gotuftsjumbos.com/sports/wbkb/2015-16/releases/20160319tr0a8h). Tufts University will play defending national champion Thomas More College at the Indiana Pacers’ arena next Monday, on the day between the women’s Division I Final Four and championship games. 
At six feet tall, Melissa is an exceptionally fast forward with a good outside shot, a superior rebounder, tough defender, and selfless teammate. Her emergence this year as a leader on and off the court has helped power the team to the title game. “She does things athletically that others simply can’t do,” says Carla Berube, Melissa’s coach. 
Melissa is not only an impressive athlete but also a successful student and active participant in life on campus, where she has helped found Athletes of Color, a club that facilitates dialogue about the unique experiences of athletes of color. Melissa, a first generation Brasilian-American, also is involved in the Association for Latin American Students, United for Immigrant Justice, and the Tisch College Community Research Center at Tufts. Last summer, Melissa studied at the Tufts European Center in Talloires, France. Prior to the start of her first year, Melissa participated in the BLAST program (Bridge to Liberal Arts Success at Tufts), which is designed to support students who may be the first in their family to go to college.
Berube describes Melissa as the embodiment of a Tufts scholar-athlete, someone who contributes in the classroom, in the community, and on the court. “As good as Melissa has been, I’m expecting even greater things from her as we look ahead to her junior and senior years,” she says. 

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