Makenzie Helms: From Yellowjacket to Husker

After hopping from school to school since pre-K, East Haven native and Connecticut Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year Makenzie Helms is finally settling on the University of Nebraska for the next four years. Makenzie transferred to EHHS coming into her junior year as she decided to finish her last two years of education and athletics here.

Before EHHS

Before joining the EHHS community, Makenzie attended eight different schools since preschool. She attended Loomis Chaffee, a prep school in Windsor, CT, her freshman and sophomore years of high school. “At Loomis, we were required to play three sports, so in the fall season freshman year I played volleyball, and then sophomore year I did AP weights. In the spring season both freshman and sophomore year I did AP weights as well,” Makenzie said. Additionally, after playing for many different basketball teams across the country throughout elementary and middle school, she was able to share her thoughts and experiences. She stated, “I would have to say my AAU team, New Heights NYC [is my favorite because they] allowed me to compete against the best and make my own name.” Makenzie has used all of these experiences on various sports teams to improve and become the star basketball player she is today.

EHHS Girls Basketball Team

Makenzie Helms became a new EHHS basketball player when she transferred here in her junior year. She guided the EHHS Team to win the Class M State Championship last year, as well as make it to the quarterfinals for the Class L tournament this year. Makenzie stated, “It’s an amazing accomplishment and not an easy one either, we were all really determined and created history for our school.” Makenzie describes winning the state championship during her junior year as an “indescribable” feeling. Coming to a new team and making new friends can be a hard transition, but when Makenzie joined the basketball team she instantly made friends. “Honestly, I was a little nervous at first. I didn’t think people were going to be as welcoming as they were. I became really close to people and I don’t think my transition could have gone any smoother,” Makenzie shared. She has recently been named the 2019 Connecticut Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year, which she earned not only for her athletics but also her amazing academic achievement and the person she became on and off the court.

Life After EHHS

Makenzie committed to Nebraska on January 14, 2019 for the next four years. At Nebraska, she hopes to be very successful academically and athletically. Makenzie had many different options and opportunities when it came to college such as Wake Forest, Yale, Syracuse, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Rutgers, Georgetown, UPenn, and Iowa State. Makenzie chose Nebraska because, “As soon as I got on campus and met the coaches, players and all of their families it felt like home. The atmosphere did not compare to any other school, their fan support system is amazing” Makenzie said. She is looking forward to meeting new people and having basketball as her lifestyle. Makenzie said she is “beyond thankful that they pushed me to come visit the campus.” East Haven wishes the best to Makenzie Helms when furthering her education and basketball career at Nebraska.

Coach Point of View

Coach Anthony Russell has been coaching basketball for 20 years. He coached the EHHS girls basketball team for 11 years. Coach Russell has coached many different girls throughout the years but he describes Makenzie as “an extremely skilled player who is very unselfish.” Coach Russell had positive things to say about Makenzie “As a person she has a great personality and as a player she is super competitive”. He enjoys working with the girls on the basketball team to help improve and have a fun and successful season each year with them. “As a coach, you never want someone like Makenzie to leave your program. However, I look forward to seeing her mature and excel as a basketball player and a person” Russell says. Coach Russell wished the best for Makenzie as she extends her journey throughout basketball.


Makenzie's family is very involved with her basketball career, after speaking with her mother Jocelyn Helms she describes her as a daughter and a person “Makenzie is a caring, fun-loving, sweet but stubborn daughter. She is a great young adult who likes to push the limits. She will do anything for anybody and even go out of her way to do so. She is funny, energetic, persistent, driven & courageous” Jocelyn says. Her family has been watching her play basketball for years and are so proud of her. Makenzies family hope the best for her when she attended Nebraska in the fall of 2019 “We hope that she will take full advantage of what Nebraska has to offer her both academically and athletically. College is a full time job plus overtime, it’s hard work that will prepare her for her future. The school is amazing & has so many opportunities for her to learn & grow as an athlete but particularly a person. We just want to see her succeed in all aspects of her life.” Jocelyn says. They are very proud to be apart of her journey through basketball. Her biggest supporters are her father, mother, brother and sister and the rest of her family. They are very proud of Makenzie becoming Gatorade State Player of the Year, knowing she worked very hard throughout basketball it is giving Makenzie many opportunities for her future in basketball.

Photo credits to Nebraska