Drakeley’s presence as valuable as her scoring ability

Junior scoring sensation Caitlin Drakeley drives strong to the hoop. Drakeley recently scored her 1,000 point against Bard College. Her leadership on and off the court have been vital to her team. Photo By: Vassar College Athletics
Junior scoring sensation Caitlin Drakeley drives strong to the hoop. Drakeley recently scored her 1,000 point against Bard College. Her leadership on and off the court have been vital to her team. Photo By: Vassar College Athletics
Junior scoring sensation Caitlin Drakeley drives strong to the hoop. Drakeley recently scored her 1,000 point against Bard College. Her leadership on and off the court have been vital to her team. Photo By: Vassar College Athletics

Caitlin Drakeley, a junior guard from Woodbury, Conn., has been tearing apart the Liberty League this season. So far, she has been selected as the Liberty League Player of the Week twice and made Liberty League Honor Roll five times this season. She is the Brewers’ leading scorer, shooting 42.8 percent and averaging 17.5 points per game: the fifth highest ever. She started all 25 games this year, averaging 34.6 minutes per game which puts her fourth highest in the Liberty League. Averaging 6.7 rebounds an appearance, she came in as the 15th best rebounder in the league. This year she also hit her career high, 32 points, twice: once against Williams College in mid-November, and then again against Union College in early January.

“I mean, Caitlin was our go-to player all year long,” said Assistant Coach Carolyn Crampton, “She really was consistent. She was the leading scorer in the LL. She never really had a bad day. We asked a lot of her. She really did a great job of facilitating the offense for other players, where she wasn’t just scoring, she was helping every other player on the floor to score as well. In my opinion, she was unguardable. And she’s going to make that much of a difference for us next year as well.”

Senior guard Allyson Pemberton from Weston, Mass., said, “Caitlin is a great player because she is both strong and quick. Guard players usually only have one of those traits, so that makes her very hard to guard as she can exploit the weaknesses of her opponent. She is an exceptional scorer, and always makes a play when we need her to.”

As freshman guard/forward Ariella Rosenthal stressed, Drakeley’s determination is contagious, “I think [her best asset is] just her competitiveness and her drive to be the best that she can be. That transfers to everyone else on the team, so that’s what makes her the best player, because seeing her want to get better makes everyone else want to get better and it just creates a better dynamic for the team. She goes 110% all the time and it’s just really nice to have an upperclassman like that who you can look up to. She sets the tone constantly. It makes everyone better.”

Drakeley’s impact on her team goes way beyond her on-court performance. She stressed how important the team was to her. “We are like one big family and the memories that we make together on and off the court are ones that I will always cherish,” explained Drakeley.

“She’s always trying to make you better,” said Rosenthal. “I remember when I first came in, in the beginning of the year, I had no idea what to expect and she kind of just brought me under her wing and brought me to lifts and pushed me at lifts so much and on the court we would work out together. She would be giving me tips on everything so that I could succeed. It wasn’t a competition between us, yes there was competitiveness, but she wanted the best for me. It wasn’t always about her. I think that’s what makes her the best teammate.”

Although the season has been tough, Drakeley found some positive moments to look back on. “My favorite memory of the season came when we were able to give the previously undefeated Skidmore College their first loss on our home court. Throughout the course of the season we had a lot of ups and down but that was definitely one highlight that sticks out to me. During this game it felt like everything finally clicked and we played extremely well together. I think everyone truly enjoyed just playing together when they were on the court and the energy and excitement that everyone played with made the night special to be a part of.”

Crampton also agreed that Drakeley’s contributions are leadership-related. “She’s one of the nicest kids you could meet. As a captain this year, I think she learned a lot about leadership and what it means, if you’re going to work so hard, to make sure your teammates are going to work just as hard as you are. She’s always there for her teammates. She’s not quite as loud as the rest of them are, but she’s really a stabling voice for them to have in the locker room. She’s approachable, and like I said, a really nice kid who I think they know they can always rely on her. Whether it’s on the court or off the court. And I think that makes a big difference for her as a teammate.”

One of the biggest moments in Caitlin’s 2015 campaign came when she reached an enormous career landmark in the women’s 24th game, played against Bard on February 18th at the Annandale-on-the-Hudson. She became the 11th member of the 1,000 point club. Drakeley ultimately finished the season with 1,012 career total points.

“It was awesome because I don’t even know if Caitlin knew or cared that she was going to score her 1000th point,” said Crampton, “So I know she had to be told that she was only 17 points away going into Bard, which is about her average. But I don’t think she was thinking about it or was nervous, because for her she hit it on a free throw. And everyone else was probably more excited or showed more excitement, because she’s just like ‘whatever it takes to win the game and help my team’ She’s the hardest working kid, so she definitely deserves it. Her parents were there and they were really excited. It was really nice for her to have that moment. But, like I said, for her it’s just about whatever it takes for the team to win. So she was really humble about it, which is really fun to watch.” Rosenthal’s reaction was a testament to the selflessness that Drakeley plays with. “That’s how she is. She’s so set on the game, she goes into the zone, and she just didn’t even care basically. That just shows her character, it’s not about individual achievements or her, it’s about the team’s.”

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