College is now in the past. Grad school soon will be. Her high school days, at Elizabethtown, have receded in the rear-view.
Athletic riches and broad-based fame are (probably) not going to happen.
Yet Sarah Fairbanks is still playing basketball. She has no plans to stop.
“Why not?’’ Fairbanks asked recently. “There’s nothing stopping me.’’
Fairbanks had a fine college career at St. Joseph’s. She finished there with 1,064 points, 636 rebounds and 113 blocked shots, one of only two women in school history to eclipse 1,000, 600 and 100.
Her senior year team was a terrific one that won 23 games, including a first-round NCAA defeat of Georgia. Then the Hawks ran into UConn; Fairbanks had 12 points and nine boards in a 40-point blowout that was her final college game.
The ostensible plan, as her senior year wound down, was to pursue a career as a physician’s assistant.
But Fairbanks admitted then that, “I miss it already. But I’m OK. Basketball — the success and the failure — taught me so much about myself.’’
Enter Susan Moran, the associate head coach at St. Joe’s. Before settling into coaching, Moran played for the WNBA’s New York Liberty and professionally in Spain, New Zealand and Australia.
“She’s a legend in Ireland,’’ Fairbanks said. “She knows everybody in basketball there.’’
Moran helped Fairbanks get into a program whereby American ex-college players can do grad school in Ireland, all paid for, and play for professional club teams there.
Which is how Fairbanks spent this school year studying business at Dublin City University while playing for the school’s team and a pro club team, DCU Mercy, in Ireland’s Women’s SuperLeague.
“It’s different, but really competitive,’’ Fairbanks said of the level of hoops in the SuperLeague.
“The ages of the girls was from 16 to 28. It was a good mix, and you could tell a lot of them had played together since they were kids. There was a lot of chemistry.’’
She averaged 20 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks for DCU Mercy, which lost in the semifinals of both the National Cup Tournament and the league playoffs. She was named Division One College Player of the Year.
“We should’ve won it,’’ Fairbanks said. “But we were a really young team, and some stuff happened. One player left. The point guard got pregnant. We brought another (point guard) in, but it’s hard to work in new players like that.’’
There was also living in Dublin, the political, cultural and economic hub of Ireland and one of the world’s great cities.
“I love it,’’ she said. “They’re very friendly people. The social life is nice. The pace of everything is much more laid back, to the point where it can be a little irritating at times, but mostly it’s nice.’’
Fairbanks will finish a master’s in business management this summer. Then, as she said, “I have a lot of decisions to make.’’
Her sister, Jen, will be a senior on the basketball team at Messiah College next year. She’d like to be around here to watch Jen play, but on the other hand, “I feel like I’m not done playing yet.’’
Fairbanks doesn’t have an agent, but has one in mind, and probably wouldn’t even need one to return to DCU Mercy.
She also, increasingly, sees herself as a basketball lifer.
“It was always a dream to keep playing past college, but there were a couple points in college when I really thought, I’m done with this,’’ she said.
“My coaches pushed me. They kept telling me it can be a reality.’’