For Meagan Eripret, basketball is much more than a game. Basketball is in her blood.
Eripret has dreamt of wearing the brown and white on the hardwood floor in Stabler Arena since she first could dribble a ball.
A graduate of Salisbury High School in Allentown, Eripret’s proximity to Lehigh basketball was about more than just the distance it took to get there. The junior center’s 5-mile drive to Lehigh University began in her mother’s womb.
Bridget Cody-Eripret played professional basketball in France for the Tarbes Gespe Bigorre women’s team, where she met her husband, Marc, who played for the men’s team of the same club. Marc Eripret is originally from France, and Cody-Eripret is from the Lehigh Valley, where she’d return each summer to visit family when the French season was over.
Cody-Eripret’s career began at Salisbury High School. The prolific scoring center was recruited to play at the Division I level for Boston College, then spent five years at Tarbes Gespe Bigorre. She decided to come back to the Lehigh Valley, where she became a graduate assistant for the Lehigh women’s basketball team under head coach Jocelyn Beck.
It was there she met Sue Troyan, who had also been a graduate assistant under Beck for two years. When Beck resigned in 1995, Troyan took over as head coach. She convinced Cody-Eripret to join her staff as a full-time assistant. In their second season, they won a Patriot League championship.
In the first round of the NCAA tournament, both coaches were on the bench pregnant. Troyan with her son, David. Cody-Eripret with her daughter, Meagan.
Eripret was born just months after the championship season and was brought to practices the following September. Lehigh was a second home to the Eriprets until 2001, when her mother stepped down from her position.
Eripret started playing basketball when she was five years old. Her parents signed her up for “kinderball” without telling her. Eripret described the level of play as “a bunch of kindergartners running around, learning the basics of basketball.”
Despite the organized chaos, she fell in love with the sport. Growing into her long-legged body was a struggle until her sophomore year of high school.
Her dad would call her a “baby giraffe,” because of her constant struggle to coordinate her long limbs. Once she gained the coordination, Eripret became a dominant force under the basket, defensively and offensively.
The 6-foot-3 center demonstrated excellence in all she did at Salisbury, where she scored a school record of 1,788 points in her career while finishing 11th in her class academically. Eripret was two-time all-state in Pennsylvania and three-time all-Colonial League first team. She was Salisbury’s most valuable player in each of her four years on the court before being recruited to play at Lehigh.
“I’ve known Meagan since she was a baby, and since she could walk she’s been coming to our camps,” Troyan said. “We started watching her seriously when she got into high school. She came from a smaller high school program, and knew she was a great person with a strong understanding of the basketball piece of it.”
For Troyan, recruiting student athletes has three areas of emphasis — a focus on education, high competitiveness and outstanding character when it comes to relationships. Troyan attributes much of her team’s success to her coaching staff’s ability to recruit these high-caliber student athletes that are inherently great teammates.
Her current team features players from 12 different states. Troyan didn’t have to look far for this recruit. Eripret was exceptional in all three areas.
“When I was younger I called her Sue, but when I got recruited I had to start calling her Coach Troyan,” Eripret said. “It was nice to know that I was going to end up somewhere with a coach that cared about me, because she cared about me my whole life.”
Eripret’s commitment to Lehigh was an easy decision. It had been her dream. Her relationship with Troyan and the Lehigh Valley area provided comfort in her choice.
She loves that she can always count on someone to be there for a game, whether it be family or high school friends that come home from college for winter break.
Once she arrived on campus in fall 2015, Eripret had high hopes to make an impact on a program that finished 19-11 and came up short in the Patriot League Championship game the season before.
Unfortunately, her collegiate debut was postponed. She tore her ACL in practice and her season ended before it began.
“It took a bigger toll on me mentally than physically,” Eripret said. “The rehab was rough and it took a long time to come back. When Sports Medicine cleared me, I thought I’d be off to the races and good to go.”
She didn’t have to go on the road to recovery alone. Kiernan McCloskey, one of the team’s leaders as a junior, was sidelined with the same injury. McCloskey had just gone through the recovery process months earlier and was a huge source of support for Eripret.
Eripret didn’t let the misfortune get in the way of her pursuit of excellence. The English major made it on the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll that year, and would again the next year. Her competitiveness took over in whatever way it could, whether it was her studies or rehab.
She rehabbed hard during the course of her freshman year, but also needed that time to mature mentally. Her personal development began to take shape in that time.
“Up until then, I’d defined myself as a basketball player,” Eripret said. “When I couldn’t play a whole year, I realized there was a lot of other things that make me, me. I’m more than just a basketball player.”
On Nov. 11, 2016, against East Stroudsburg University, the sophomore center took the Stabler Arena floor for the first time in her collegiate career.
“It was something that was 19 years in the making” Eripret said. “I spent my whole life watching Lehigh basketball, and I got to put the uniform on for the first time. It was big for me, I finally felt like I was where I was supposed to be.”
For Eripret’s mother, it was great to see her daughter’s progress come full-circle. With an injury like that, it’s easy for self-doubt to creep in, Cody-Eripret said. She had suffered a similar injury at Boston College and was thrilled to see her daughter back on the court.
Eripret would make three starts and 23 appearances over the course of her sophomore season for the Mountain Hawks. In what would be the team’s season-ending loss in the Patriot League tournament’s first round against Loyola, Eripret had her best performance with career highs in points and rebounds with 11 and eight, respectively.
“Coming back from the knee was something that took a lot out of me,” Eripret said. “I wasn’t sure that I could be the player I’d wanted to be. That was the first moment that I thought, ‘I’m actually here and can do this.’”
Troyan said Eripret brings value to the team in more ways than one. Behind her competitive spirit is a kind heart. When she isn’t on the court, Eripret tries to be a loud source of encouragement in cheering for her teammates.
“Meagan is one of those kids that has as big a heart as anybody I’ve ever coached,” Troyan said. “She’s somebody who cares a lot about people and her team. She’s just a great person, she’s someone you want to be surrounded by and have as a member of your team.”
One of Eripret’s favorite things about Lehigh is its people. She said she hasn’t found a person here that hasn’t made it feel like home.
Since Eripret was a little girl, she’s come to Lehigh for basketball.
But 20 years later, she’s found more than just a game at Lehigh.
She’s found a home.