By KEN MORSE
Plainville senior Caitlin Barker broke the 1,000 point mark this season and will take her game to Emmanual College in Boston in the fall. Barker played an integral role as the Blue Devils leader on the floor. She was also the team’s leading scorer, dropping 457 points through the cylinder this season at a 21.9 per game clip.
Emmanuel College is in the heart of Boston and that played a role in Caitlin’s decision. Playing in the NCAA Division III Great Northeast Athletic Conference, the Saints have put up two of the longest winnings streaks in Conference history. Emmanuel won 72 straight (2000-06) and most recently 68 in a row from 2010-16 under head coach Andy Yosinoff in his 42nd year at the helm.
“I know my parents (Cyndi and Steven) are excited. The whole family are Red Sox fans,” said Barker, who will study sports management. “Seriously though, Emmanuel College has been on my radar for a long time now. When I went up there for a visit the whole team was so welcoming and made me feel like I was already a part of the team.”
“Coach Yosinoff is incredible in his craft. He made me feel like he really wanted me to be a part of this program. That was the deciding factor. Here is the coach with the most wins (832) in Div III women’s basketball wanting me on his team. That spoke volumes to me.”
Emmanuel will be graduating two seniors and one of them was their three-point shooter. Barker the two-time All-CCC forward has developed a knack for taking the shot from downtown knocking down over 30 points four times this season.
But it was the adversity she overcame in her sophomore season that built a confidence level that is unshakable. Barker lost almost the entire season with an ACL injury and coming back the way she did to reach the 1,000 point mark showed the determination and drive to succeed that will serve her well as she takes the next step as a collegiate basketball player.
“I lost a little bit of my confidence going through that injury,” said Barker. “Coach Jess (Neuweiler) and my teammates really helped me to get through that rough period.”
“But what really helped me to get my confidence back was my AAU coach (Ernestine Faienza) who went through the same injury when she was playing in college. She got me to a place where I knew it was only going to get better and as a player I would get better.”
Barker began to put her game back together and saw similar numbers playing with the AAU Ct. Heat scoring 21 points per game last year and averaging 72 percent from the foul line.
That is where coach Yosinoff came into contact with Barker and Emmanuel became one of the schools that Caitlin looked into. Knowing what was ahead of her as far as playing in college Plainville head coach Jess Neuweiler began to prepare Barker for the next step.
“I was tough on Caitlin because I knew what she was capable of,” said Neuweiler. “You look at the player she is and the commitment it took to comeback the way she did from that injury. I never doubted her ability for a moment.”
“When we spoke with coach Yosinoff throughout the recruiting process he was impressed with her work ethic and he is looking for her to be a key player in their program.”
“She has a passion and love for the game. When she first came here to Plainville she was a shooter and a scorer. Over the past four years she has learned to become a leader.”
“The other girls on the team saw the commitment and dedication she had to overcome the injury. To see her go onto to play in college just shows them that they have the same opportunity if they put in the work.”
Barker will most certainly have the opportunity to succeed at Emmanuel as the Saints return a team that will have three seniors, one junior and seven sophomores as they look to defend their GNAC championship having appeared in the championship game in eight of the last ten seasons.
“After what I’ve been through I’m not taking anything for granted,” said Barker. “The hardest part of overcoming the injury wasn’t physical it was more mental. I wouldn’t be where I am today without coach Jess (Neuweiler).”
“She really helped me to stay focused. I’m sure coach Yosinoff won’t go easy on me and I’m prepared to give everything I have to be successful and to help my team be successful.”