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Imagine being the only senior on a college sports team. That’s what Emily McPadden is dealing with, as well as being a captain.
McPadden plays for the Keene State’s Women’s Basketball team, and has since her freshman year. McPadden knew she was going to be the only senior early on in her college career. At the end of her sophomore year, she realized that if the team didn’t have any transfer students, she would be the only junior and senior.
“For the most part, I knew we weren’t going to get any transfers because not many people transfer for just their senior year, but it’s different being by yourself and not having anybody be in your class,” she said.“I think being the only senior is great and all but I definitely want to leave something with the program and that’s helping the juniors now even the sophomores and freshman just getting better every day, and realizing how hard it is to handle college basketball with school. I think that’s the greatest thing a senior on the team can tell them how they made it all four years,” she said.
Players left the team due to school, she explained. Their coach has always told them school comes first, and has no problem people stepping down, McPadden said. The team has 13 players on the roster, making them a small team. Some might think this an obstacle, but McPadden thinks otherwise. She thinks because the team is small, it makes them closer.
“The chemistry on our team is incredible right now,” she said.
McPadden said regardless if she wasn’t the only senior, she would still be feeling the same pressure she has now.
“I think there’s always going to be pressure for the senior on the team because they’re the people that are looked to for the tough moments to make a play,” she said. Although she is the only senior, she said the juniors on the team will help her out when it comes to mentoring. Seeing the senior before McPadden leave was hard for her.
“I’ve learned that you can’t take every single day for granted because one day it’s not going to be there, so I’m giving everything I have in practice and games and enjoy my last year,” McPadden said.
McPadden tries to get in the gym as much as she can to practice her shooting. Even before games she gets in early to shoot around.
“Especially being the only senior I have to make the plays that we need at crunch time,” she said.
Teammate and junior Kenzie Bennett said, “She brings a ton of knowledge to the team. Not only can she shoot, but she gets the game and has this incredible understanding, she can tell almost any position their role in a play as well so she’s awesome to have on the floor if anyone’s confused.” She described McPadden as a great captain, good friend, and an even better teammate. “She’s a good leader, dependable, compassionate and she has an incredibly high basketball IQ,” Bennett added.
McPadden’s personal goal is to leave this team with a winning mentality.
“I want to show them Keene State is all about winning, we had a rough year last year and that’s not normal for us… especially the freshman, I want them to know this team doesn’t take losing lightly and personally I just want to win games,” McPadden said.
All four years of her basketball career have been completely different, McPadden said. During her first year, the team was successful. But her sophomore year, the team made history. The team won the LEC championship for the first time in Keene State’s Women’s basketball history. But then her junior year, it was the opposite.
“It was a rough year,” she said.
This has helped her have a different perspective on basketball.
“Freshman year you’re just there ready to play, but through the years you learn a mentality that [not] everyday is a given. You can get injured and not be able to play for 10 games straight so you learn to give it your all every day,” she said.
One of the biggest things that McPadden has done throughout her years playing here is learn how to balance school and athletics. Her freshman year she was all about basketball.
“I did well in school back then but I’m doing much better,” she said. As well as learning how to manage being a student athlete, she’s also learned more about the team.
“I’ve learned how the team works, and not everything is going to be perfect. So we can at least come into the gym every day and give everything we have and me being a senior help out the underclassmen when it comes to this,” she said.
McPadden still keeps in contact with one of her senior captains from her freshman year, Kelsey Cognetta.
“I bounce ideas from her all the time and captains after her, I talk to them and ask them about different situations and how I should handle them, I’m a senior and still going through the learning process,” she said. She adds on how she wants the underclassmen to still reach to her and talk to her whenever they need help.
Women’s head coach failed to comment before deadline.
Adriana Sanchez can be contacted