“It’s the best place for me:” Bernardston’s Paige Loughman to play basketball at University of Hartford

  • Paige Loughman (bottom right) poses with her AAU team, Central New England Rivals, after winning Zero Gravity Nationals this spring. The Bernardston resident will play collegiately at the University of Hartford beginning next season. CONTRIBUTED IMAGE

Staff Writer
Published: 6/30/2022 7:58:54 PM

Get ready to see Bernardston’s Paige Loughman on the big stage next season. 

Loughman starred for the Pioneer girls basketball team for three seasons before transferring to Northfield Mount Hermon School, where she’s been the last two years. 

Her success with NMH — in addition to showing well with her AAU team, Central New England Rivals — got her noticed by colleges and in the fall, she’ll be heading to play at the University of Hartford.

“It’s been my dream since I was a little kid to go play basketball at a Division 1 school,” Loughman said. “I'm excited to get down there. It’s the best place for me.”

It was certainly a wild time with the Hoggers for Loughman. After her junior basketball season with Pioneer, she went to go catch a game at NMH. After the game was over, she was shooting around and Hoggers coach Grace Rehnquist took notice. The two talked and Loughman decided that reclassifying as a junior and heading to NMH was the best decision for her. 

Then, COVID-19 hit. Loughman’s first season with NMH was lost, as the Hoggers didn’t have a basketball season during the 2020-21 school year. 

That didn’t stop Loughman from getting better on the hardwood. NMH gave athletes an option to stay on campus during the winter or go home, though if they stayed on campus they weren’t allowed to leave. Loughman and six other Hogger basketball players decided to stay and live on campus, allowing them to work out together throughout the winter.

“At first not having a season was a little frustrating,” Loughman said. “At the same time I didn’t mind it because it was good for my development. I had to adjust to being able to play at that level with kids who are really good. The whole team wasn’t there so it was a great time to really develop.”

Coming from Pioneer where Loughman was the star of the show, one of the biggest adjustments came from getting the opportunity to play with a group of players who were at her talent level.

“I had to get used to not being the star anymore,” Loughman said. “I had to get accustomed to the other players who were all just as good or better than I was. It makes you work harder. I didn't realize how good the competition was at the next level. You get to NMH and everyone there is really good. It pushed me to get better. I was getting the help I needed to really improve.”

Loughman finally got to make her debut with the Hoggers this year. Her season was off to a good start when an injury came along, knocking out a good chunk of her winter, including the postseason.

Still, she learned a lot during her time at NMH, getting to play in a competitive NEPSAC.

“It was a lot different than Pioneer,” Loughman said. “The pace of the game is a lot different. It’s a lot more intense. We run a lot. We have a lot of set offenses which took some time getting used to. I was playing well, then I got hurt and had to sit out.” 

Getting to play AAU basketball also helped Loughman improve, and that stage also helped her get seen by college programs.

With the Central New England Rivals this spring, she helped the squad finish with a 26-4 record, taking home four tournament championships including the Zero Gravity Nationals title in Boston.

“AAU helped me a lot,” Loughman said. “AAU was my favorite place to play basketball. The environment is awesome. I have so much fun there. It’s fast paced and you can just play. You have a lot of freedom. I loved playing with that team. All the kids were good players and everyone shared the ball. It was an unselfish team which is something I value.” 

Getting recruited in the COVID era presented challenges. While Loughman wanted to play at the next level, she first had to learn how to get her name out there. 

Another issue was finding colleges that still had open roster spots. 

“Coming out of Pioneer I didn’t know how to get recruited,” Loughman said. “I didn’t understand the process at all. By the time I got to NMH, even with reclassifying, a lot of schools I reached out to emailed me back that all their roster spots were filled. They had already finished recruiting for my class. The biggest problem I ran into was finding schools to even look at me.” 

It wasn’t until last fall that Loughman put herself on Hartford’s radar. NMH held an open gym and Hartford sent a coach to take a look at her. They liked what they saw, and Loughman stayed in touch with the program. She went on a visit and decided it would be the best fit for her.

It’s an interesting year to be heading to Hartford. The school announced in May of 2021 that it planned to move from Division 1 to Division 3, with the transition approved and scheduled to take place in September of 2025, Loughman’s senior year.

For now though, Loughman will enter Hartford this fall playing at the Div. 1 level. Among the marquee games on the slate, the Hawks are expected to make a trip to Columbus to take on Ohio State this winter.

“They’re supposed to be Division 1 until my senior year,” Loughman said. “I’m not sure if that’ll be the case but I know this year we will be Division 1, which has always been a dream of mine. I’m so excited to get to go down and play Ohio State. That’s going to be so cool.”

When Loughman made the visit to Hartford she got to meet the team, but that won’t exactly be the group she gets to play with. After the announcement that the school intended to move to Div. 3, many players transferred out.

Hartford also hired a new coach (Polly Thomason) last month, adding to the list of changes for the program. That’s a challenge Loughman said she’s looking forward to, as she’ll be given every opportunity to earn a role with the team. 

“I just want to play,” Loughman said. “We’re going to have a lot of young players but it’ll give me a chance to play. At a lot of Division 1 schools, you don’t play much as a freshman so this will be a good opportunity for me. Having a new coach, that’s also a good opportunity. If there are kids left over from last year, she won't know them. Everyone will have to work hard to earn playing time.” 

It wasn’t just the basketball aspect that sold Loughman on Hartford. She said the school’s academics were also a key factor.

“Basketball is the big reason I’m going there but I do care about academics,” Loughman said. “I don’t overlook that. It’s a good academic fit as well and I’ll be in the Honors College there.”

Loughman said she’ll arrive on campus in mid-August and practices begin shortly thereafter, where she’ll look to show her skills and attempt to earn a spot on the floor once the season rolls around.


Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Greenfield Recorder, keeping Franklin County informed since 1792.

Greenfield Recorder

14 Hope Street
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261


Copyright © 2021 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy