Paige Morton ’20 Is In a Good Spot

Paige Morton ’20 could have ample reason for disappointment. She sat out half of her sophomore year’s basketball season at Oak Knoll due to an injury. She was a member of the Class of 2020 — robbed of a normal graduation due to the pandemic — and just recently, her Princeton Tigers team got knocked out of the NCAA Tournament in the second round.

But as her Oak Knoll days illustrated, she’s got grit. She bounced back in subsequent seasons at Oak Knoll to become one of only eight athletes to score 1,000 points. She constructively used a gap year during the pandemic to wait out the return of in-person learning at Princeton, and she has nothing but pride in her Princeton Tigers for all the excitement they drew both locally and nationally to the Princeton Athletic program.

“It’s been really awesome,” says Morton, who plays forward on the women’s team, “especially since the women’s and the men’s team got into the tournament together. It was just really cool to see everyone on campus so focused on athletics.” This is only the second time in school history, both the men’s and women’s basketball teams at Princeton earned a bid to the tournament — affectionately referred to as March Madness.

Morton reiterates her perseverance using the recent Ivy League Championship as an example. The women’s team at Princeton defeated Harvard to clinch the trophy. “We had lost to Harvard earlier in the season, and that was a crazy thing because we hadn’t lost in so long at that point. It came all the way back full circle and we were playing them again in the championship. It was a really close game — back and forth a lot. We were down at halftime by around 10 points or something, and then we came back and we won it. We didn’t give up. It was a supercool experience.”

Morton’s grit is also evidenced in the balance she strikes between NCAA athlete and Ivy League student. When asked if Oak Knoll adequately prepared her for the rigors of being both, she says, “I definitely think Oak Knoll prepared me super well for the workload here. Our basketball practices are kind of at the same time as they were at Oak Knoll and my academic load is actually not too different from what it was at Oak Knoll, which I think was super helpful. Being at Princeton, I’m surrounded by a lot of people who are very focused and excited, and energetic about the work that they’re doing — which is also similar to Oak Knoll.”

Morton is a member of the film program at Princeton and hopes to enter the industry. “Directing is my goal, but I like cinematography, too. That would be my second choice,” she shares.

“I always think about the lip sync competition,” she shares, referring to a cherished annual tradition during Oak Knoll’s Upper School spirit week. “I still think it was the coolest thing that it was built into our schedule that we had to practice lip sync and those dances. I always had a ton of fun. I felt like it really brought together the community in a super fun way.”

As for giving current Oak Knoll students her thoughts on how to best prepare for college life, she states, “Keep working hard and getting a little bit better each day. Stay positive and everything is going to work out. I would say to not compare yourself to your peers a ton and just believe in yourself and recognize that you’re in a good spot.”