By Cristhian Plasencia/Asst. Sports Director
Callie Cavanaugh was used to being the face for Holyoke High School. But in college she’s just another team contributor.
“The pace of the college game is a lot different, and you go from being the star of your team to scoring less points,” said Cavanaugh. “I had to work on rebounding and assists more than focusing on points.”
While in high school, she made the First-Team for Western Massachusetts and Hampden County, and USA Today High School Sports selected Cavanaugh as an All-USA second team in the 2015-16 season.
College basketball, unlike the professional level, has a constant mixture of freshmen and veteran players. Resulting in teams needing to acquire the right chemistry and to gel together on a regular basis.
“You’re going to be out there with five other athletes that started on their high school teams coming to play with you, all intending to be the best,” said the freshman forward. “I connected with the upper classmen right away, my roommates, especially Lauryn [Snipes].”
It took time to click on the court for the freshmen, but once preseason started, Snipes, Shante Walker and Cavanaugh grew into their roles on the team. Junior guard Kristian Hudson took it upon herself to lead the incoming freshmen when they came in June.
“Kristian is always looking to help us, instead of yelling at us on the court. She would take us to the side and tell us what we did wrong, and how we can fix our mistakes,” said Cavanaugh. “She has a lot of patience, especially dealing with six freshmen. I don’t know other upper classmen who would deal with that stuff.”
Cavanaugh struggled with foul trouble early in games, but as the season progressed she limited her personal fouls and became effective on both sides of the floor.
“I’ve been more aware of my foul trouble. In practice, we work on post defense a lot. It’s more about knowing the personnel and how to guard them,” said Cavanaugh.
The freshman forward’s college stats are incomparable to her stellar high school stats, but she showed glimpses so far in her first season. Currently, Cavanaugh has recorded three double-doubles, a season-high 12 points, and a season-high 13 rebounds.
“Getting a double-double as a freshman, it feels great,” she said. “Not a lot of freshmen get the chance get off the bench on other teams, having more minutes means working harder and it demands top shape to play that amount of time.”
In her junior year in high school, she finished averaging 26.5 points per game. The hybrid forward won the Holyoke High School Female Athlete of the Year, and scored 1,000 points at the end of her junior season.
Now growing into her new role on the women’s basketball team, Cavanaugh will continue to work towards transcending her game.
Next up for the Panthers, the team will host the Florida Atlantic Owls on Saturday, Feb. 17 at the Ocean Bank Convocation Center. Tipoff is set to begin 2 p.m.