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ERIN CUNNINGHAM LEAVES HER MARK ON THE WOMEN'S BASKETBALL PROGRAM

Hartford, Conn. - From the time she was three years old, senior Erin Cunningham (Wilton, Conn.) knew she wanted to play basketball, eventually finding her way to Trinity College. “My dad has always been a big basketball fan, so he signed my sister and I up for ‘Peanuts’ basketball in our hometown and coached our team,” said Cunningham. “I was interested in Trinity because of the combination of high caliber academics and athletics. When I visited campus all the girls on the team were so friendly and welcoming, which ultimately helped me decide that I wanted to come to Trinity.”

When Cunningham committed to Trinity, she didn’t commit to current head coach, Emily Garner, but the coach previous to her, and played for Garner from her sophomore to senior year. “It was definitely an adjustment for everyone. There were a lot of changes to the program such as team standards, expectations, and style of play,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham’s position on the team also changed, which was an adjustment for her. “My position/role also shifted. My freshman year I played more of a guard/swing player position, where sophomore year in Coach’s offense, I was moved into more of a back-to-the-basket post player. There were some growing pains for both the team and me personally, but with time and communication with Coach Garner, we all started to understand each other and learned how to work together. My relationship with Coach has definitely grown over time, and she has been a great mentor and resource for me throughout my time at Trinity.”

Coach Garner (3rd season) had positive things to say about Cunningham as well regarding her as a player, person and role-model to the team. “Erin was a great leader because of her relatability to others, her commitment and dedication to the team, and her ability to lead and motivate on the floor,” said Garner. “She earned a great deal of respect not only from the coaching staff, but also from her teammates, and did a tremendous job helping to lead and develop our team culture.”

Cunningham, along with fellow senior teammate Meghan Collins was named a captain this winter as well. “Being a co-captain required a higher level of communication between both my teammates and the coaching staff,” said Cunningham. “Luckily I was paired with Meghan Collins who was a captain as a junior and was able to help me transition into the role. Meghan and I were liaisons between the team and the coaching staff, and had to make sure everyone on the team was up to date with our schedule and any changes that might have been made.”

“Another key responsibility is bringing the team together through any adversity, whether we just had a sloppy drill in practice, or were losing in a game. I learned that as a captain, you have to be a motivator when someone needs to be picked up, but also know when to hold the team accountable when we aren’t performing up to our potential. Most importantly, I learned that you have to be there to support your teammates in any way that you can through whatever may be going on the court, in their personal life, etc. Although Meghan and I were the two captains, we had three other seniors that helped share some of the leadership responsibilities, which made our jobs easier.”

“Erin has left an indelible mark on the program, not just with her basketball ability, but also in regards to her leadership and commitment to our program,” added Garner. “As a junior, she led the nation in 3-point field goal percentage, and was highly respected in our league as being a tremendous threat from behind the arc. Beyond her ability to shoot, Erin served as a captain her senior year, helping to lead our team to a 19-6 overall record.”

Cunningham’s career had its ups and downs. Her freshman year, the team finished in last place in the NESCAC with only one conference win. During her sophomore year, they were able to win three NESCAC games, but fell short of the playoffs.

“My junior year, we had the same record, but were able to sneak our way into the NESCAC playoffs as an eight seed. Finally, senior year everything clicked. We were able to secure a home NESCAC quarterfinal game, which was something that had not been done since 2014,” said Cunningham. “Unfortunately, we came up short in that game, and because of that missed out on an NCAA tournament bid. Even though the season was cut short, it is amazing to look back and see how far the program has come.”

She also discussed the “Trust the Process” that Coach Garner taught the team as she looked back on her four years and reflected about how far the program has come.

“It was definitely something that helped us get through the difficult times and tough losses, and continue to get better every day. Each year we have raised the bar for the program, and it will continue to rise in the years to come with the strong group of players returning to the program.”

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