The sophomore forward has emerged as a forceful inside presence for the Lions this winter, averaging 13.4 ppg, 10-7 rpg and 3.1 bpg, and shooting 52 percent from the field. Sacred Heart basketball head coach Zach Shuler said, “Keara has been a pleasant surprise. We knew she was capable of performing this well but I didn’t expect this production so early from her. Her game has evolved and is growing each practice. I challenged her in the fall league to be more aggressive on the offensive end like she is on the defensive side. She is so coachable, a hard worker, with high energy in every drill we do in practice, and runs the floor at full speed every play.” Outside of basketball, McCaffrey participates in volleyball, Reading Olympics, Yearbook Club and is a Student Ambassador at Sacred Heart Academy. Her mother Stephanie was a standout basketball player for Saint Joseph’s University.
Q: Tell us a little about your basketball activity in the fall league and what you learned. What aspect(s) of your game did you work on the most during the off-season?
A: During the fall league, I was scared to shoot the ball because I was afraid of missing and I was not confident in my shot. I would get the ball and either panic and rush or pass out of the paint. I learned that even if you miss the shot you just have to keep playing, the game goes on and there’ll be other opportunities. In the off season, I worked on my post moves so I could feel more confident in the paint.
Q: What do you think are the biggest keys to effective rebounding?
A: I think that the biggest keys are anticipating where the ball will go and getting in a good position. While my height has helped, it’s more about getting in front of your girl to get that ball. This took me a while to get good at. There are times where I still struggle with it, but I have talented teammates that push me to get better positioning.
Q: What has been your favorite experience with the team so far this season?
A: I’d have to say that my favorite experience so far was our victory against Lower Moreland. We were losing by a lot at halftime, then came out in a 3-2 defense in the second half. We really came together as a team in the second half. We could’ve given up after the first half, but we went out with the mindset of winning and worked together to make that happen.
Q: What in your opinion is the biggest key(s) to playing good defense?
A: In my opinion, I think the biggest keys for good defense are persistence and balance. If your girl beats you, you have to get back. The play is not over until you get a rebound. Being in the post often means being your team’s last line of defense, which means you can’t give up easily. Basketball is a game of balance, especially on defense. When you’re balanced on defense, it’s easier to move with your girl and get in front of her.
Q: Tell us a little about your start in basketball. Your mom Stephanie was a standout player for Saint Joseph’s University – tell us a little about the influence she had on your basketball career. Who have been your top basketball mentors, and what was the most important thing you learned from each of them?
A: When I first started playing basketball, I thought of it more as a hobby. I went to the SJU summer camps and played for my school but that was about it. It wasn’t until my mom coached my AAU team in 8th grade where I truly fell in love with basketball. I think that her competitive spirit really rubbed off on me, and after that season I wanted to get better to be as good as her. My mom is truly amazing and it is hard not to admire her for helping me workout and giving up her time so that I can become the player I aspire to be. Other than my mom, I’d say that my dad and Coach Shuler are my top mentors. My dad taught me the importance of keeping my head in the game and to always play like it would be my last. Coach Shuler taught me to be comfortable with my misses and to be confident with my shot. He is the one that taught me to look for my shot.
Q: Who is your favorite basketball player and why?
A: My favorite basketball player would have to be Cameron Brink. I’d say that she’s my favorite because she is the player I am working to be. Seeing her on the court just inspires me. You can see whenever you watch her, she gives it her all, she’s there for her teammates, and is an overall amazing player.
Q: What is your favorite academic course at Sacred Heart? What do you think you might like to major in when you go to college? Is there a career path that particularly appeals to you at the present time?
A: Currently my favorite subject is history. I think that I would like to major in film production. I think it would be fun to be a director, but we’ll see where life will take me.
Fun facts – Keara McCaffrey
Favorite book: If You Could See the Sun, by Ann Liang.
Favorite author: Madeline Miller.
Favorite TV show: Derry Girls.
Favorite movie: Legally Blonde.
Favorite athlete: Cameron Brink.
Favorite pre-game pump-up song: Family Ties by Baby Keem and Kendrick Lamar.
Favorite team: New York Mets.
Favorite place to visit: King of Prussia Mall.
Favorite pre-game meal: Strawberry yogurt with walnuts.
Person I most admire, and why: “I’d have to say that I admire my mom the most because she has done so much for me and my family. Whenever I see pictures of her from college I think about how lucky I am to have a mom as amazing as her.”
Family members: parents Jim and Stephanie, brother Jimmy, sister Kaylin.
(To be selected as Main Line Girls Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be nominated by her coach.)