Having played basketball for 14 years, senior English and communication major Kayleen Smith is definitely not a newcomer to the game.
After playing for St. Joseph’s high school in Hammonton, N.J., she has helped lead the women’s basketball team in scoring for the past four years.
“I wanted to play basketball in college, but at a level where I could enjoy it,” Smith said. “I spoke with the assistant coach at Cabrini after one of my high school games. He convinced me that I would be able to do that at Cabrini. I came on an overnight visit and stayed with a couple girls who were on the team and I made my decision that next day.”
Head coach Bernadette Laukaitis noticed Smith’s potential on and off the court.
“She has the unique ability to be the sweetest person off the court and a person that you do not even want to go against on the court,” Laukaitis said. “This team would not be where it is right now without her on it. She has been a great leader and has worked so hard each and every day that she steps on the court.”
Averaging 10.4 points a game, Smith is a big part of the reason for winning the Pennsylvania Athletic Conference championship last season.
“We are the team that turned this program around and got Cabrini back on the map since 1998, the last time Cabrini won the conference, and I feel honored in knowing that I am a part of that,” Smith said.
In her final season, the team played in the Virgin Islands and at Madison Square Garden.
“Playing in Madison Square Garden for the second year in a row was surreal for me,” Smith said. “It is one of those moments that takes your breath away and makes you feel like a little girl again, being given the chance to play in an arena where all the players who inspired me have played. I had the goose bumps the entire game and couldn’t stop smiling. Not many people can say they have played on that court. I will brag about that moment for the rest of my life.”
Teammate Alyssa Brady, junior education major, said, “Kayleen brings a lot of heart and determination into the game. She is a great leader for her team on the court. If the team is struggling, we can always look to Kay to put us on her back and get us going. Kayleen really provides a spark for all of us to follow. Off the court, Kay is a really fun loving girl.”
As the season comes to an end, Smith looks back on her memorable experience as a Lady Cavalier.
“Being a part of the Cabrini team is like being a part of an oversized family. Honestly, I could not have asked to play with a better group of girls or a better coaching staff. They have made my experience here worthwhile. It’s going to be very difficult not being able to play with them after this season, but I will walk away from this situation as a better person because of them and will have lifelong friends and memories that are irreplaceable,” Smith said.