Written By: Joseph Barrett
- ECGulls.com Contributor
BEVERLY, Mass. – Where others doubt, she trusts… and where others hesitate, she capitalizes.
Third-year guard Emily Pratt (Gardner, Mass.) has not only been a major contributor for the Gulls since her arrival as a freshman, but she also has established herself as one of the top two-way players in the CCC.
As a first-year player back in 2016, Pratt's approach to the game of basketball was simply different than most. The collegiate stage is one with bright lights and lots of attraction, but the sharpshooter has always been aware of the impact she could make on a team at this level.
"I kind of knew that I could be an impact player wherever I went, just because of the way I prepare for games and the way my mind works," said Pratt. "Having confidence in myself, knowing that I could do whatever I put my mind to."
Out of everything a coach can preach to their players, one of the most important qualities of an athlete is their ability to improve each and every year. It's safe to say Pratt accomplished this and was able to record career highs across the board for the Blue and Green this past season, not only as a scorer, but also as a playmaker.
Pratt's points per game have increased in each of her three seasons, beginning at 8.8 as a freshman and doubling to 17.7 as a junior. This scoring outburst resulted in her recording 20 points in 10 different games this past season. Her field goal percentage (41.8%), three-point percentage (36.2%), and the all-important minutes per game statistic (33.4) all reached career highs as well.
Perhaps the most rewarding feat for Pratt this past season was becoming a member of the 1,000 point club at Endicott College. The accomplishment has only been shared by 11 other players in the program's history. She reached the milestone in typical Pratt fashion, in an elimination game to go to the CCC championship. The 21st of February cemented Pratt as one of the top scorers to ever represent the Gulls, and she still has another season to add to her totals.
The individual statistics may be flattering, but Pratt took her talents to Endicott to win games. She cherishes the opportunity to have the Gull patched on her jersey and believes if she can improve during each offseason, the better chance there is to help her team climb the standings.
"One of my goals every year is to do better than before. If you keep showing teams the same thing over and over they're obviously going to make adjustments so you also have to make adjustments yourself," said Pratt.
Another member of the team and close friend of Pratt is fellow junior Kaleigh Putnam (Wallingford, Conn.). The two guards are actually roommates and share the court as well, making up the duo in the backcourt. Pratt enjoys the fact that the team thrives on challenging one another to be the best they can be, and it's no different for her and Putnam.
In 2016, the two players competed for the same position as freshmen. This created a competitive brand of basketball that's been exemplified by the two players ever since. Pratt couldn't be happier with their respective relationship both on and off the court and feels the two have only become better players because of their tight bond.
"Every offseason after freshman year we've been working out together… Just kind of going head-to-head with her, battling it out, making each other better," said Pratt.
Pratt is also very appreciative of men's basketball manager Mitchell Roy, who works out both Pratt and Putnam in the offseason. The hard work and effort paid off this past season, as the two made it difficult for opposing CCC coaches on a nightly basis.
Endicott head coach Brittany Hutchinson is beyond grateful to have had the opportunity to coach them these past three seasons, and even went as far as to call them two of the best guards in the conference.
"She [Pratt] is really a player who can create her own offense, which I think is unusual at this level… she's a tremendous one-on-one player," said Hutchinson. "She takes all the big shots, she guards the opponent's best player and she's just a joy to watch."
Hutchinson has made her presence felt as one of the most respected coaches in the CCC. Her defensive-minded approach and vocal motivation strategy push her players game in and game out.
"She's obviously a huge person that contributes to our overall success… Having her in my corner I guess would probably be the biggest thing, she's my biggest supporter." said Pratt.
With Pratt racking up 59 steals and 13 blocks on the season, it seems the two make up a perfect pairing to represent the Endicott identity.
Being second in the conference in steals and an effective defensive player makes a big impact on the opposition's gameplan going into each matchup. However, Hutchinson is a big believer in not only how a player performs, but the mentality each player must hold during the daunting stretches of a 27 game season.
"One thing that she kind of preaches is mindset and having that mental game, and that's one of the works in progress at least with me that she's been trying to creep out a little bit," said Pratt.
The season, unfortunately, ended in heartbreak for the Gulls, as the team came up short against Western New England in the CCC Championship. Despite the loss, the club came together and portrayed beautiful basketball for large portions of the season.
The team put together three separate four-game win streaks and ultimately finished with an impressive 18-9 overall record, 13-3 within the conference. A theme that existed this season that both Pratt and Hutchinson preached is the connectivity within the team. When the roster is playing together as a collective unit as opposed to a group of individuals, the Gulls were tough to contain.
"I look up to each one of my teammates… each one brings their unique aspect to the game whether it's Catie Lipscomb (West Springfield, Mass.) making hustle plays, Emma Tierney (Wolfeboro, N.H.) coming up big on the defensive end or Kaleigh just pushing me day in and day out, everyone has an impact," said Pratt.
Pratt has played and started in all 80 games of her career for the Gulls in her three seasons, further showing her commitment to conditioning and maturity. The soon to be senior is not only on pace to crack the top 12 in games played in the program's history but is also projected to become a top-five scorer in the program as well.
A large component of this ongoing success goes back to her playing days at Lawrence Academy, including Spartan head coach Donna Mastrangelo who helped Pratt envision her future and evolve Pratt both as a player and as a person.
"I would say it's the experience as a whole… she really helped me become a better person outside of basketball. She was tough on me which also contributed to my success," said Pratt.
Pratt's love for basketball has been present for a long time, but the last three years have opened her up to new friends and have created memories off the court that will exist for years to come.
"When we get together off the court, we typically go to a senior housing sort of thing, we all just hang out. We can just talk freely with one another and really just get everything out in the open," said Pratt.
Pratt's journey since arriving on campus as a freshman has not just brought her basketball success but more importantly, the team memories that she will hold onto forever. The veteran will be present and accounted for in her final season next fall and aims to continue the success the team has previously put together.
(Photo Credit - David Le '10)