February 22, 2010

A Versatile Leader

By Katie Nugent
Special to GoHolyCross.com

Briana McFadden, a senior co-captain of the Holy Cross women's basketball team, has achieved success from the start during her collegiate career. In her freshman year, point guards Laura Aloisi and Jessica Pearson both suffered ACL injuries and the team spiraled into a seven-game losing streak. When head coach Bill Gibbons asked her to help out in this situation, McFadden stepped up to the challenge of playing the point guard position and helped lead the team to a Patriot League Championship and a trip to the 2007 NCAA Tournament.

"I was amazed at the poise and maturity she displayed as a freshman playing a position that she had not played since the seventh grade," Gibbons recalls. "She showed what she can really mean to a team."

Even during her earliest days on the hardwood, McFadden established herself as a fearless player. She describes being the only girl on her very first basketball team when she was just six years old. It was not until middle school that McFadden realized that she wanted to play at the college level, as she looked up to the women she saw playing in the NCAA Tournament. Little did she know that she would evolve into one of the players she used to simply admire on television.

During her four years with the Crusaders, McFadden has had many memorable moments on the court and achieved much success. The league championship and the chance to play in the NCAA tournament that concluded her freshman season stands out as the best memory. "Experiences like these are things most college athletes don't get to enjoy," says an extremely grateful McFadden.

Her overall list of accomplishments is impressive. She began her career being named to the Patriot League All-Rookie team, and during her sophomore and junior years she was named first team All-Patriot League. McFadden was also the 25th player in Holy Cross women's basketball history to score 1,000 career points.

What makes McFadden such a special player is her versatility, a quality she proved to possess during her sophomore year when she moved to the three spot and earned the honor of Patriot League Player of the Year. "She has been the heart and soul of our team for the past four years," says Gibbons.

Just as McFadden has been a focused and diligent member of the women's basketball team, Gibbons has played a major role in her development. "Coach provides us with an environment to be successful both on and off the court," says McFadden. "He has played a pivotal role in shaping me into the player and person I am today."

McFadden has not only gained the respect of her coach, but she has also earned the respect of her teammates, which allows her to be such a great leader on the court. "She is calm under pressure, a great competitor and plays with confidence in herself and her teammates," senior co-captain Bethany O'Dell says of her teammate and close friend.

Her success is not limited to the court, as she is also an extremely hardworking student and an active member in the community. During her time at Holy Cross, she has tutored at the Mercy Centre, assisted with basketball clinics for local girls and has volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club.

McFadden would not trade her four years at Holy Cross for anything in the world, as being an athlete on campus has made for an unforgettable college experience. From a team trip to Italy, to a NCAA tournament matchup against Duke, to the strong bonds formed with her teammates, Holy Cross has provided Briana with opportunities that most college students only dream about.

As McFadden reflects on her time at Holy Cross, she realizes that it is the relationships and bonds formed with her teammates that she will miss the most after graduation. "I can't imagine not having those friendships through the ups and downs of our careers here," says McFadden.

McFadden enters to the Patriot League Tournament hungry for another championship and a trip to the NCAA tournament. "When it comes to the Patriot League it's the rivalries that you build up that get you fired up to play," says the fierce competitor. Regardless of how the season ends, McFadden's future is bright as she hopes to continue her basketball career overseas and one day attend medical school.

This article will appear in the 2010 Patriot League Basketball Tournament Program.