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Madison St. Rose: sophomore star and poised leader for the Tigers

Woman in black jersey dribbles down basketball court.
Madison St. Rose leads the Princeton offense against Harvard.
Photo courtesy of Madison St. Rose.

With a three-point lead in the 2023 Ivy League Championship, first-year guard Madison St. Rose approached the foul line. After her first shot rattled out, she drained the second, cementing a two-possession advantage. When the buzzer rang seventeen seconds later and the Tigers stormed the court in glee, it was St. Rose’s shot that proved crucial to icing the Ivy League championship win for Princeton.

From those critical moments last season to emerging as the second-leading scorer this year, sophomore guard Madison “Maddie” St. Rose has cemented herself as an essential cog in the Princeton women's basketball machine.


Early days: from cheering for others to being cheered for

While St. Rose had an active early life, she didn’t fall in love with basketball until later on.

“Basketball wasn’t my first sport,” St. Rose told The Daily Princetonian. “I actually did not want to be a basketball player; I really liked cheerleading, and that was the big thing of mine.”

At her local YMCA, a joking comment may have inspired St. Rose’s basketball genesis.

“One of my instructors was like, ‘Why don’t you play basketball to have people cheer for you instead of you cheering for people?’” St. Rose recalled. “I thought that was pretty funny, but then took it into thought, and from there I pursu[ed] basketball more. I started to like competing a lot, especially against my brother.”

St. Rose and her brother Jayden are twins, and St. Rose cites time with him as fundamental to her development as an individual and a basketball player. 


“It was really competitive when it came to basketball,” she said. “We would always play one-v-one against each other, and we kept playing games over and over and over from sunrise to sunset… [it was] just really fun having another person that has the same goals and aspirations as I do, because then we push each other to reach for the stars.”

The St. Rose twins separated for the first time when Maddie went to St. John Vianney High School, a top basketball high school located in New Jersey. There, she joined a team with a long history of winning and a legendary coach in Dawn Karpell

High school and recruitment: ascending above her peers

St. Rose immediately played a major role on the St. John Vianney team, who went 23–4 her freshman year. As St. Rose gained confidence and experience, the Lady Lancers lost only three games throughout the rest of her high school career. 

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Playing on a team with at least seven fellow future Division I players her senior year, St. Rose still managed to set herself apart.

“To be the best player in a program like that, I think we knew her skillset and those intangible skills she had would translate to this level,” Princeton assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Lauren Battista told the ‘Prince.’

Women in black jersey handles basketball.
St. Rose leading the Lady Lancers’ offense on the big stage at Rutgers.
Photo Courtesy of Madison St. Rose.

As a result, St. Rose received offers from multiple Power 6 schools, becoming ranked the 46th best prospect in the nation. She spoke about the process of being recruited by the Tigers.

“I was first recruited by Coach [Lauren Battista], and when I was getting to know her, I found her really funny; she was really nice,” St. Rose recalled. “When I was deeper into getting to know Princeton, I also got to meet [Head] Coach Carla Berube, and [assistant coach Lauren Dillon], and everyone else, and I just really loved their energy level.”

While St. Rose praised her prospective coaches’ dedication, those on the Princeton side of the equation admired St. Rose’s mature and composed demeanor.

“Something special about her game, even just when she was in high school and AAU was the poise that she has on the court,” Battista shared. “For us, that was something that stood out even more so than all the great skills that she has.”

“No matter how the game is going, she’s very level-headed, very calm, cool, and collected,” senior forward Ellie Mitchell told the ‘Prince.’ “She always ends up elevating with this grace and composure, and I think that’s really special, especially in someone as young as she is.”

Princeton was ready to welcome St. Rose with open arms, and St. Rose highlighted the aspects of the basketball program — along with Princeton’s academic excellence — that led her to commit to the Tigers.

“I wanted that same type of culture [as St. John Vianney] and that’s why I chose Princeton because number one, I really did like getting coached by a female coach, and number two… Princeton really prides themself with [defense], as you can tell by the ‘Get Stops’ motto that we have.”

New kid on the block: growing into season one of college basketball

After a 32–1 senior campaign, culminating in winning the New Jersey Tournament of Champions over rival Rutgers Prep, a win St. Rose describes as her best high school memory, St. Rose arrived on campus alongside Tabitha Amanze and Taylor Charles as the only members of a small Class of 2026 for the Tigers. 

“She definitely had her bumps and roadblocks, just coming in and adjusting not only to Division I basketball, but school and the rigor of everything that is going on here,” Battista noted. “She just stayed the course and understood that they're going to be challenging days, weeks, all of it… once she got into a rhythm that worked for her, I think that’s where you really saw her just blossom as a freshman.”

While academic speed bumps are a universal Princeton experience, St. Rose discussed the more unique challenges of adjusting to the higher level of college basketball. 

“The physical[ity], the pace of the game was different. I was playing against a lot of taller — like longer, stronger girls,” St. Rose said. “In practice, I was constantly guarding Julia Cunningham [’23], Grace Stone [’23], well-known girls in the Ivy League that constantly challenged me in practice, and nothing came easy.”

Mitchell described the task of learning Princeton’s defense, saying it has “a big learning curve, and it’s a lot to take in as a freshman… I don’t think anyone in high school had a very complex defensive system.”

St. Rose secured a spot in the starting lineup. While her first games were relatively quiet, St. Rose kicked her play into another gear with a pair of double-digit scoring performances against Cornell and Hartford in January 2023.

“I just felt comfortable; I was doing my thing, [I] felt like my past self from high school, and that’s where I gained a lot of confidence,” St. Rose explained. “From there, that’s where I felt like I was excelling because everything just clicked for me, and I was waiting for that day to happen.”

Mitchell concurred, saying “we had seen glimpses of how great Maddie was and how great she was going to be… [then] she realized, ‘Okay, I have the hang of everything. I feel comfortable,’ and from there, it was just trajectory.”

St. Rose’s ascent continued through Ivy League play as her skills became increasingly apparent.

“She looks so poised, even though there’s tons of defenders flying at her,” Mitchell described. “She wiggles her way through, stops, pivots, spins a couple times, and [her defenders’] heads are turned like they’re going the completely wrong direction.”

From March Madness to the dog days of summer: the big stage and the work behind it

Last season culminated in an Ivy championship and a berth in March Madness, a memorable experience for the first-year guard.

“March Madness was obviously a dream of mine at such a young age; I had always wanted to play,” St. Rose said. “Even though I didn’t have my best performance scoring-wise, I still tried to contribute in other ways, like on defense and just getting stops.”

Woman in orange jersey holds basketball.
Madison St. Rose handles the ball on the big stage at March Madness
Photo courtesy of Madison St. Rose.

While St. Rose scored only two total points in the Tigers’ two games in March, her defensive efforts were vital. The No. 10 Tigers shocked No. 7 NC State, 64–63 before losing narrowly to No. 2 Utah, a game that motivated St. Rose to work even harder over the summer.

Battista noted “I attribute [her improvement] to her work ethic.” She added that “last summer, she… stuck around and took advantage of working out with our strength coach, getting in the gym, getting a ton of reps.”

St. Rose’s inspiring work ethic can also be found in the classroom, where she is planning to study sociology or psychology. Fittingly for an individual always looking for new limits, her favorite class her first year was her writing seminar, Curiosity.

“The topic of the course was curiosity, and we talked about [topics including] Curious George and the Curiosity Rover,” St. Rose shared. “We got to decide on the last paper what we were curious [about], so I just enjoyed that whole thought of curios[ity].”

Sophomore year: an emerging role on and off the court

The 2023-2024 season brought with it a new role off the court for St. Rose. As the only starter not a first-year or a senior, St. Rose has a special responsibility to connect the team.

“She’s a bridge to the younger ones, because she was just in their shoes,” Mitchell said. “Having that glue and that bridge between everyone is integral to our success, and I’m not sure Maddie even necessarily realized that, but she is a big factor in our team chemistry.”

St. Rose’s off-season work and team leadership made an immediate impact, as she exploded for 26 points on 9 for 18 shooting in the season opener against Duquesne on November 6th, 2023. 

St. Rose now averages 14.3 points per game, good for second on the team and demonstrative of an ever-expanding role.

In a rare close Ivy game against Columbia, “Kaitlyn Chen was in foul trouble early on, and she’s most definitely our floor general and our leader out there, and so that challenged Maddie,” Battista explained. “She really had to step up and lead those young guys,” which she certainly did, to the tune of 21 points, six rebounds, and three assists.

As the calendar inches closer to March, the postseason is coming into view. St. Rose’s coaches and teammates are confident that her skill is going to continue to blossom as she progresses into becoming the next leader of the Princeton women’s basketball team. 

Women's basketball team huddled together celebrating win covered in streamers.
St. Rose (center) with the team after winning the Ivy League championship last March.
Photo courtesy of Madison St. Rose.

“I think [her leadership] is going to develop as these years go on, and we’re hoping that she’ll become an even bigger vocal leader because she does lead by example every single day, and now she knows what to do,” Battista concluded.

Max Hines is a staff Sports writer for the ‘Prince.’

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