Senior forward Kristen Ross, sat in a courtside seat at the Event Center. She had just finished a midday practice and was being grilled about her best memory as a Bearcat. She chuckled for a second, but quickly settled on a particular moment.
“At [one of] our in-season practices, Payton Husson, who’s 6-foot-4, was shooting and [5-foot-6] Kai Moon blocked her,” Ross said. “She just started screaming — that was the moment where I was like, ‘This season’s going to be great. Win or lose, these are the kids I want to play with.’”
In her junior season, Ross played in all 31 games and started 29 of them. But when the 2016-17 season tipped off, she was out of the starting lineup saw a decrease in her playing time. Despite the change in role, one aspect of Ross’ game never changed: her commitment to being a supportive teammate.
“I remember taking [freshman forward Karlee Krchnavi], who was starting at the four, aside this summer,” Ross said. “[I told her], ‘Whatever you need from me in order for us to be successful, that’s what I want to do — I want to win.’”
As the season progressed, though, she found her way back onto the court, getting the start in 14 of BU’s 28 games. Ross is one of just three seniors on the roster, and one of just two who witnessed the program transition under head coach Linda Cimino, who took the helm in the spring of her freshman year.
“The recruiting classes that coach Cimino is bringing in are big reason why we’re doing so well,” Ross said. “She has absolutely changed the culture around here.”
According to Ross, Cimino has created an environment where each player understands her job.
“I’m not scoring 20 points a game, like Imani [Watkins],” Ross said. “I look at my role as being a calming presence on the court. I’m the person that’s a steady hand.”
With one game remaining in the regular season, BU has compiled a 13-15 record and sits in fifth in the America East — a massive improvement from the squad that went 5-25 during Ross’ rookie season.
“[Success] isn’t going to come right away, but if you don’t give up, good things will come,” Ross said. “As I’ve seen.”
On the floor, Ross is something of a shepherd, keeping her teammates focused on the ultimate goal: winning. Her ability to lead, though, follows her off the court, and people have taken note. Recently, Ross was selected to speak at the upcoming Women’s Athletic Luncheon, an annual event held to recognize the importance women’s contributions to athletics.
“[It’s a] huge honor,” Ross said. “I found out a week and a half ago and I wrote the speech in three days — I was really excited,” Ross said.
She plans to talk about the opportunities that she has been exposed to thanks to her involvement in Binghamton athletics.
“Being from Maine, I’d never even heard of Binghamton,” Ross said. “[But] this university has helped me grow in so many ways different ways, not just on the court, not just in academics, but just as a person in general.”