J.P. Stevens’ Yelencsics a strong leader in all sports she plays


 J.P. Stevens High School’s Molly Yelencsics, left, is a two-sports star in lacrosse and basketball. She’d like to play both in college.  PHOTO COURTESY OF HEYTHERELEFTY PHOTOGRAPHY J.P. Stevens High School’s Molly Yelencsics, left, is a two-sports star in lacrosse and basketball. She’d like to play both in college. PHOTO COURTESY OF HEYTHERELEFTY PHOTOGRAPHY Molly Yelencsics is a multi-talented athlete who plays basketball and lacrosse for J.P. Stevens High School.

She excels at those sports because of her natural ability, but she is also driven by the desire to play one or both in college.

In the winter, Yelencsics is a shooting guard for the Hawks’ girls basketball team. In the spring, she commands the midfield for the girls lacrosse team. Her summer is occupied with playing AAU basketball and during the fall, she keeps in shape by working with a personal trainer.

Essentially, Yelencsics is an athlete for all seasons.

“I am currently focused on opportunities to play college lacrosse, but I would definitely consider basketball if I get the chance,” said Yelencsics, a rising senior at J.P. Stevens.

It’s understandable she would like to play both sports when she graduates. Her athletic skills have enabled Yelencsics to top each team, not only from a statistical category, but also in terms of leadership ability.

Last basketball season, she averaged 9.2 points per game, which was second on the team, and finished with a team-leading 25 goals and 13 assists for the lacrosse team.

“Molly is everything you look for in a player and is very supportive of her teammates and everyone around her,” J.P. Stevens girls basketball coach Amy Bonk said. “She is a leader on and off the court.”

Yelencsics’ lacrosse coach, Lisa Dato, agrees with Bonk that her primary strength is her ability to take charge on the pitch.

“Molly demonstrated how committed she was by bouncing back quickly from an injury that kept her out of the first two games of this season,” Dato said. “She showed strong determination and the will to succeed and became a dynamic leader on the field — one who her teammates looked to for guidance and direction.”

Yelencsics played in the Edison Township recreational soccer program and went to dance classes as a youngster, and she added basketball to her busy schedule when she entered fourth grade. It was only when she entered high school that Yelencsics was exposed to lacrosse — a fast-paced game that suited her natural ability perfectly.

A second-team All-Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) selection, she hopes to show her junior season was just a glimpse of what she hopes to achieve next spring.

Before that, however, Yelencsics will play a key role for the Hawks’ basketball team, which finished 12-13 last winter. The goal is to become a legitimate contender for the GMC Red Division.

“Apparently, our basketball coach saw something in me because she named me a captain my sophomore year,” she said. “I remember her telling me she needed somebody to step up.”

Yelencsics said keeping up with schoolwork can be overwhelming at times, but she manages to achieve good grades by utilizing the sports she plays as an outlet for relieving stress.

“Basketball and lacrosse actually help me get through the pressure because I leave everything on the court and the pitch,” she said. “Another key is time management, but because I maintain a structured schedule through sports, that helps me keep organized.”

In addition to her parents, those who have most impacted Yelencsics’ life include her former AAU coach, the late John Speiss, who died a year ago.

“Coach Speiss somehow saw my potential as an eighth-grader, even though I couldn’t complete a lefty layup,” Yelencsics said. “However, he saw my potential and pushed me to be better, and that helped me become a complete player.”

Yelencsics’ basketball and lacrosse coaches at J.P. Stevens have also been a major influence.

“Our freshman basketball team won only two games, but Coach Bonk told me we would only get better, and I believed her,” Yelencsics said. “We’re not there yet, but our team is much more competitive.” Although lacrosse appears to be the path that will enable Yelencsics to play in college, she is not dismissing basketball if the opportunity presents itself.

“Even if I play club, intramural or even walk on at the bigger schools, I’d love to continue playing,” she said. “I also plan to major in athletic training. I’ve enjoyed a great experience working with our trainer at Stevens (Melissa Wojcik), and I’m passionate about it now and it’s definitely a profession I would like to pursue.”

Bonk believes Yelencsics will realize her goal.

“She has worked hard to help her teammates become better, and that’s what makes an effective leader,” she said. “Every year as her coach, I’ve watched Molly become better. She’s hard-working, dedicated and willing to give 100 percent all of the time.”