Teammates say McFarland was a valuable leader
It’s hard to imagine what the CU women’s basketball team will look like when No. 45 of the black and gold moves on to a life without Buffs’ basketball.
“You know, it’s crazy. It seems like yesterday that I stepped on during the summer, five days after I graduated high school,” said Jackie McFarland, CU senior and women’s basketball standout. “I was out here taking summer school, here in Boulder. I still remember that so well.”
McFarland has been the face of CU women’s basketball since arriving in Boulder in 2004. This spring, she will graduate from CU and leave the Buffaloes behind.
“I think that it just now kind of started to hit me though, since the last couple of games, Texas Tech and Iowa State; you know how short the season is getting,” McFarland said. “There’s not many games left at all.”
She was extremely impressive in her first season with the Buffs, as she was one of the team’s leading scorers, averaging 10 points per game. Standing at 6 feet 3 inches, McFarland also led the team in rebounding with 6.2 rebounds per game.
Since her freshman year, McFarland has continued to improve on the court. She averaged 17.2 points per game in her sophomore season with the Buffs, which was the team’s highest scoring average. She almost averaged a double-double per game in her sophomore season with 9.2 rebounds per game.
She finally managed to average a double-double per game in her junior year with 10.8 rebounds and 17.8 points per game.
Despite McFarland’s individual success on the court, the CU women’s basketball team has struggled in her tenure. The Buffs went 31-57 in McFarland’s first three years at CU. But coach Kathy McConnell-Miller’s strong recruiting has given McFarland some help on the offensive end of the court, and the Buffs have improved in the last two seasons.
McFarland and the Buffs started out the 2007-2008 season well. The team went on an 11-game winning streak early in the year, which put them on the national radar and in the top 25 women’s college basketball teams. But since the streak came to an end, the Buffs have gone 1-8 in their last nine games.
“It’s meant so much to me, knowing that all that hard work – tears, sweat, whatever – that I’ve put in the last three years is finally paying off, and it’s showing now,” McFarland said of the team’s current season. “And we may have been struggling as of late, but you can still see the team, and there’s a foundation now.”
McFarland had to step into a bigger leadership role this season, which is normally expected of the seniors on any college basketball team. Juniors Kara Richards and Hannah Skildum said McFarland is a great leader, who encourages her teammates both on and off the basketball court.
“I think the challenge was there and she stepped into it,” Richards said of McFarland’s leadership this season. “There were big shoes to fill, and she did a wonderful job.”
Skildum said McFarland has shown her how to be successful both in basketball and in academics. McFarland, who is getting her master’s in tax accounting this spring, has been an inspiration in the classroom.
“Since I’ve been a freshman, she’s been a role model and leader to me,” Skildum said. “She always kind of showed me what it is to be a good student, athlete and good player out on the court, so she’s got that all around package.”
In an atmosphere where academics can take a backseat to basketball, McFarland said she will take her accounting degree and work for Ernst and Young after she graduates if basketball is not in the immediate future.
McFarland said she would like to play basketball overseas or possibly in the WNBA. But her job opportunity at one of the most prestigious accounting firms is a good backup.
WNBA coaches have watched McFarland play, and McConnell-Miller said she thinks McFarland could get drafted. Still, with graduation around the corner, Buff basketball will be hard for McFarland to leave behind.
“This is all I’ve known,” McFarland said. “This is what I’ve given my heart to the last four years, and not having that around is kind of scary.”
Contact Campus Press Staff Editor Kyle McDaniel at firstname.lastname@example.org.