Central York standout lives her dream, will pursue two passions, hoops and math, at MIT

  • Central York girls' basketball standout Sarah Berman will play basketball at MIT.
  • MIT is rated as the No. 1 national university in the nation, according to some sources.
  • Berman averaged just more than 11 points per game last season for Central.
  • Berman is a two-time York-Adams League Division I first-team all-star.
Central York's Sarah Berman, left, drives the ball down the court while Harrisburg's Joy Pagan defends during District III, Class 6-A girls' basketball quarterfinal action at Central York High School in Springettsbury Township, Thursday, March 4, 2021. Central York would win the game 66-41. Dawn J. Sagert photo

When Sarah Berman got on the phone with the women’s basketball coach at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she knew right away this was going to be much different than a usual conversation with a college coach.

Instead of breaking down Hudl video of the Central York High School girls’ basketball standout, it was her transcripts that were discussed during the meeting, to assess whether Berman met the requirements for admission into one of the nation's most prestigious academic institutions.

“That first phone conversation was her looking at my transcript, going through it course by course and just evaluating my academics to see if there's a chance I could even get in,” Berman said.

There was some concern about some science courses that Berman didn’t take, when she instead opted to double up on math classes. So, when she submitted her application, there was some doubt in her mind about whether she would receive an acceptance letter.

She didn't need to worry. She was accepted at MIT and recently committed to play basketball at the university.

Berman knew in the sixth grade that she wanted to pursue a career in math. In middle school she joked with family members that she would eventually end up at MIT, but had no idea at the time how difficult a task that would be.

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Reported requirements to get into MIT are a minimum 4.13 grade-point average, 1520 SAT or 34 ACT score, out of 1600 and 36, respectively. Berman said of the 15,000 students that applied for early action when she did in November, just 700 (4.6%) were admitted, including Berman.

“The thought never crossed my mind that I would get in, so when I opened the acceptance letter I still didn't think I was getting in, and then I was just completely shocked,” Berman said. “I definitely wasn't confident that I would get in. I mean, I've always known that I was above average intelligence-wise, but when you see a school like that, that has such high recognition on a national scale, I just didn't know where I would stand with other students across the nation. I'm just very honored and definitely there's still an element where I still am shocked I got in, but it's great.”

Talking basketball: Once Berman’s spot at the school was secure, she started talking basketball with the coach. The Engineers play at the NCAA Division III level and went 15-12 during the 2019-20 season, their most recent campaign after the 2020-2021 season was canceled because of COVID-19.

Playing basketball in college was important to Berman and was the main reason she didn’t apply to elite universities such as Stanford or Duke, which play at the NCAA D-I level. The 5-foot, 6-inch Berman averaged 11.4 points per game as a senior and was third in the York-Adams League with 52 3-pointers. She was a Y-A D-I first-team all-star in both her junior and senior seasons.

At MIT, Berman plans to double major in mathematics and economics. She is interested in getting into sports analytics, and said one of her future Engineers teammates is doing an internship with Golden State Warriors analytics department.

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Realizing a dream: Years after Berman joked that she would end up at MIT, she will be headed there in the fall with a chance to pursue two of her passions — math and basketball. The realization that she will attend a university ranked No. 1 in the nation academically by several publications still hasn’t fully set in for Berman, but she is proud that all the time spent studying over the years culminated in a spot at her dream college.

“To have that plan set now feels great, and when I think about the fact that I'm blessed enough to be attending a school like MIT, it's just surreal,” Berman said. “I never would have thought that it would happen. I'm just really happy that all the hard work has paid off.”

Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com.