Lauren Kokotajlo will forever be remembered for setting the girls’ basketball program on a course from relative obscurity to national prominence with her skill and relentless determination. A consummate gym rat, “Kooks”− as she was affectionately known by her classmates − spent countless hours in the Erik B. Hanson Field House perfecting her game.
A point guard during her sophomore year, Lauren cemented her name in Peddie athletics’ lore by making “the shot.” In the waning moments of the state finals against perennial power Mt. St. Dominic’s, Kokotajlo came off a screen by senior Jackie Toth and connected on a game-winning three-pointer that earned Peddie its first state title in 11 years and launched a 13-year title streak that lives today.
Kokotajlo would solidify her stature as one of the all-time greats by leading Peddie to two more state titles but not without overcoming adversity along the way.
Suffering a torn anterior-cruciate ligament during the spring of her junior year, Lauren endured grueling rehabilitation sessions each morning before classes the following fall. As captain of the soccer team, she never missed a day on the sidelines even though she was unable to play that season.
Upon her return to the basketball court later that fall, Kooks scored 24 points to lead the Falcons to an upset of nationally ranked Germantown Academy and became only the second girl in Peddie history to surpass the 1,000-point mark. She finished with 1,220 points and is currently Peddie’s fourth all-time leading scorer in girls’ basketball.
Kokotajlo, a Hamilton Square, N.J. native, became Peddie’s first female basketball player to earn a full athletic scholarship to play Division I basketball at Mount St. Mary’s College in Emmetsburg, Md.
For her outstanding contributions to the sport of basketball, her unwavering pursuit of excellence and her commitment to her teammates, Lauren Kokotajlo is being inducted into the 2009 Peddie Sports Hall of Fame.