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Garso’s sports stats research honored at conference

Jackie Garso of Lake Clear skis for the St. Lawrence University Nordic team. (Provided photo — St. Lawrence University)

CANTON — Jacquelyn “Jackie” Garso, a 2020 graduate of St. Lawrence University and a 2016 graduate of Saranac Lake High School, has studied the differences in shot selection between National Women’s Hockey League teams, and this research earned her a second-place finish in the Undergraduate Poster Competition in the Statistics in Sports Section of the American Statistical Association’s 2020 Joint Statistical Meetings’ Virtual Conference.

Her poster, titled “Testing Spatial Distributions of Event/Shot Locations,” was based on research she conducted with her mentor Michael Schuckers, the Charles A. Dana Professor of Statistics, as part of her senior thesis.

“I found that teams differ in the number of shots taken, but not in the locations that they shoot from,” she says. “The research presented was an outgrowth of this, and was looking to see if the shot maps that are becoming common in sports such as hockey, soccer and basketball actually show a significant difference in shot location.”

Garso, of Lake Clear, pursued a statistics major because she always enjoyed math and problem-solving.

“Stats allows me to investigate more real-world problems than a math major would have,” she said.

After graduating in May, the former Saints Nordic ski team standout was selected for a National Development program for the biathlon, a sport that combines Nordic skiing and marksmanship, and moved to California to train. After biathlon, she plans to pursue a career in sports analytics.

Joint Statistical Meetings is one of the largest statistical events in the world with than 6,500 attendees, including 1,000 students, from 52 countries who attended the more than 600 sessions offered. Topics ranged from statistical applications to methodology and theory to the expanding boundaries of statistics, such as analytics and data science.

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