Mater Dei Prep senior Katie Zoda scored her 1,000 career point during a home game against Henry Hudson Regional High School on Jan. 23. Courtesy photo
Mater Dei Prep senior Katie Zoda scored her 1,000 career point during a home game against Henry Hudson Regional High School on Jan. 23. Courtesy photo
" When I got my 1000th, it was like God telling me, ‘You worked for this.' "
Katie Zoda is not only a 1,000-point scorer, she is a four-star person.

The senior guard recently put her name in the Mater Dei Prep basketball history books when her 3-pointer against Henry Hudson gave Zoda exactly 1,000 points.

“It definitely was amazing and unbelievable,” the Middletown resident said of the Jan. 23 milestone. “It was relieving to know all the hours of shooting I’ve put in over the years paid off.”

Scoring points is not all that Zoda does for the Middletown school.

She has an eye-popping 4.6 grade point average and is a member of the Spanish Club, Art Club, Yellow Ribbon Project Club and the Capstone Academy; she is also an MDP Ambassador.

The Yellow Ribbon club is relatively new and raises money to help with suicide prevention. The Capstone Academy is an enrichment program of top students from each grade who come together outside the classroom to study subjects beyond the core classes.

“You take extra trips each year,” Zoda said. “You’ll come together, discuss them, write about them, and each grade gets a project to complete by the end of senior year.”

As an ambassador, Zoda will work at open houses, or spend a day with an eight-grader interested in Mater Dei Prep, providing advice and information.

When she’s not busy making her school a better place on and off the basketball court, the parishioner of St. Mary, Middletown, spends time observing her Catholic upbringing.

“I definitely am a believer in my faith; especially going to Catholic school, it has become more prominent in my everyday life,” Zoda said. “I do believe ... and that’s always helped me throughout high school – work harder, work harder.

“When I got my 1000th, it was like God telling me, ‘You worked for this.’ Faith has definitely been a big part of my life. Growing up, my parents brought me to church every weekend, and it was just always something in my family as well.”

Zoda’s parents, Charlie and Susanne, have been active in most aspects of her life, particularly in sports.

Charlie Zoda was a standout runner for Steinert High’s cross country sectional championship team in the mid-1980s and also played basketball before focusing solely on distance running. Susanne Zoda played basketball for Middletown South High, while two of her sisters also played hoops. Zoda’s older sister was a three-letterman at Mater Dei.

“When I was younger, I tried all sports,” Zoda said. “Softball and soccer, I wasn’t that great.”

She was pretty good in her dad’s sport, though, saying, “I used to run in middle school. I did cross country all three years and I did track as well and ran distance and did long jump. I did pretty well. In seventh grade, I got a few first place races, and in eighth grade me and another strong runner made all the All-Star races.”

That success, however, could not overtake Zoda’s desire for basketball. She began playing AAU in seventh grade with the New Jersey Sure Shots and switched to the New Jersey Belles in ninth grade. That’s when she decided to focus strictly on one sport.

“AAU was becoming more serious in high school, it was demanding and we would travel for tournaments,” Zoda said. “So it just became too much to play other sports on top of AAU basketball.”

Not to mention, Belles coaches Joe and Cindy Fagan were making a huge impact on Zoda.

“My parents inspired me, but they’re two of the other people who got me where I am now,” Zoda said. “I definitely know if they weren’t my coaches, I wouldn’t be as good as I am today. They completely enhanced my knowledge of the game and how I played. They were definitely some of the best coaches I had.”

Zoda entered Mater Dei as a shooting guard and immediately became a regular as a freshman. In her first three seasons, she averaged 7.8, 13.7 and 14.9 points per game. She led the Seraphs in scoring as a junior and sophomore and was second as a freshman.

Zoda and Shelby Barksdale are both averaging around 10 per game this year. Zoda’s average is down because she has switched from shooting guard to point guard and is responsible for distributing the ball as much as scoring.

She admitted it has been an adjustment.

“It was definitely hard for me to do,” she said. “But my dad … taught me a lot about the game of basketball, so my IQ was there and I was able to do it pretty successfully.”

Zoda leads the team with 22 assists this year. She went to the old reliable jump shot to notch her 1,000th point.

“It's a testament to all of her hard work and sacrifice,” Seraphs coach Mike Pineiro said of the milestone. “Early mornings, late-night shooting – even on days when she probably didn't want to shoot – ultimately led her to this well-deserved accomplishment. On the court, Katie is a floor general. She always gives 100 percent and helps our team in whatever role necessary.”