• 48°

Kavanaugh excited with return trip home

HUNTINGTON, W.

Thursday, December 06, 2001

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – When Kristen Kavanaugh graduates from the Naval Academy, she plans to fly planes. But she could never fly as high as she soared Wednesday night.

Playing before a record Marshall women’s crowd of 5,256 fans, Kavanaugh hit a 3-point shot during Navy’s 71-61 win over the Lady Herd.

The former Ironton Lady Fighting Tigers All-Ohio star hit her shot with 6:05 left in the first half and extended Navy’s lead at the time to 25-20.

"This is amazing," Kavanaugh said, her smile beaming from ear-to-ear. "I could not be any happier, and this crowd just made it better.

"This was the biggest three ever. It was the biggest thrill of my career. To hit the shot and in front of 5,000 fans and half of Ironton was amazing."

Because of a bout with mononucleosis, Kavanaugh was in the hospital as late as Sunday and there was a question as to whether she would make the trip. Not only did she make the journey back home on the team bus, she didn’t disappoint the Ironton fans in attendance as she hit her only field goal attempt from left left corner in front of the Marshall bench.

Kavanaugh entered the game at the 7:15 mark and left with six minutes on the clock. She did return with 19.1 seconds to play in the game.

"A tip of the hat to Kristen. KKs been sick. Today I thought she did a great cameo," Navy coach Joe Sanchez said. "The team was honored to play here today and win for her."

When not in the game, Kavanaugh spent her time next to the coaching staff encouraging her teammates and sometimes instructing them on what to do. She admitted her coaching tips made be a hint of things to come.

"It’s definitely a possibility," Kavanaugh said of a possible coaching career. "I’ll be a pilot first, then maybe a basketball coach (at the college level)."

Part of the reason Kavanaugh became ill was due to her appointment as Company Commander. Kavanaugh is in charge of 150 women in her unit and must see after everyone’s needs. She is also a captain on the basketball team.

"I wore myself out. Every day is non-stop, but I’d do it again," Kavanaugh said.

As the Company Commander, she led her unit onto the field prior to last Saturday’s Army-Navy football game. She said it was a special moment, especially since her mother and father, Rosemarie and Lloyd "Bubby" Kavanaugh were in attendance.

"It was amazing, but not as big as I thought it would be. There aren’t many people in the stands at 9 o’clock in the morning," Kavanaugh said. "But I heard my mom screaming, so it was worth it."

Kavanaugh’s good nature and leadership has endeared her to her teammates. The media guide lists her at 5-foot-7 which caused her to grin sheepishly.

"I call all the 6-footers on the team ‘Big Uns.’ They made me an honorary Big Un. I’m a stretch at 5-5, but I think I’m 5-7 so that’s all that matters," she said with a laugh.

And with that, off she flew back to her teammates and family.

Amazing.