Crawford leads team as sole senior

GVL / Robert Mathews / 
Forward Kara Crawford (24)

Robert Mathews

GVL / Robert Mathews / Forward Kara Crawford (24)

Stephanie Deible

Facing adversity this season, the Grand Valley State University women’s basketball team is calling upon the leadership of fifth-year senior Kara Crawford to help the Lakers stay focused on progressing as a team.

Crawford, who returned to the court this season after tearing her ACL a year ago, has evolved into a leader for GVSU.

“Kara’s been here for five years, so she knows a lot and she’s been through a lot,” said junior guard Lauren Stodola. “She’s played in a lot of games, so on the court she doesn’t really get rattled when things aren’t going our way.”

The senior forward has competed in 101 career games, starting 72 for the Lakers.

“When you have a senior like Crawford, it’s a great thing,” said GVSU head coach Janel Burgess. “She’s been so focused on making her teammates better and being a selfless leader.”

Her knowledge and focus aside, this season has afforded Crawford with new opportunities to work hard and set an example.

With juniors Alex Stelfox and Lauren Stodola suffering mid-season ACL injuries, the same injury that ended Crawford’s season last year, she hopes to help the duo remain positive.

“I’ve gone through what Lauren and Alex are going through,” Crawford said. “I think I set a pretty good example for them. I came back and worked hard, and it’s good for them to see it’s just an ACL and you can accomplish so much more if you rehab right, stay focused and stay positive.”

As freshmen Meryl Cripe and Emily England see increased court-time because of injuries, Burgess said the Lakers will look to take advantage of the composure Crawford plays with.

“I think she’ll be able to help a Meryl Cripe or an Emily England be a lot more composed out there,” she said. “I think we especially saw that against Northwood when Alex went out, she led with extreme composure and just let the game come to her.”

With senior point guard Jasmine Padin suspended for the remainder of the season, Crawford remains as the lone senior on the roster, and continues to earn the admiration of her teammates.

“Off the court everyone on our team can talk to her about everything,” Stodola said. “We all have a lot of respect for her especially because she worked so hard to come back.”

With the season’s final stretch approaching, Crawford is focused on staying in the moment and contributing when she can.

Instead of trying to do much, Crawford is embracing the opportunity to help the Lakers improve as a unit together.

“I make sure that everyone knows they’re important on the team,” she said. “I think it’s important for everyone to contribute each and every day.”

GVSU will travel to Northern Michigan University and Michigan Tech University for a pair of GLIAC contests this weekend.