The junior point guard has been a starter for Sacred Heart’s last three District 1 championship squads. In the district championship final earlier this month, she led the Lions in points (11), rebounds (seven), assists (six), and steals (five). She leads Sacred Heart in assists, and according to Lion head coach Zach Shuler is the best defender on the team and “the ultimate team player.” She’s also at the top of her class academically. Off the court, she is a member of Sacred Heart’s cross country and track teams, a member of the school’s Girls in Medicine Club, a student ambassador, a Kairos (senior retreat) leader, and has been a Community Service representative for her class the last two years.
Q: What is your most vivid memory of the district championship game?
A: Probably the start of the game. From the warm-ups to announcing the starters to tip-off, you could tell that our team was really excited to be there and that there was a lot of positive energy. It was a great way to start the game and I think that energy showed through in the first few minutes and set the tone for the rest of the game.
Q: How do you view your leadership role (on court and off) as the team’s point guard?
A: As a junior point guard, I think my main role is to set the tone and pace for our team on the court. Off the court, with so many great seniors who have done an incredible job of leading the team, my job is to encourage the underclassmen and show them that they are a truly vital part of our team. Also, I still have a lot to learn from the seniors this year so my job is to learn from them so our team will be prepared for when our seniors graduate.
Q: In what area of your game do you feel you improved the most this season? What part of your game are you working on the most currently?
A: I think my confidence on the court has improved the most this season. In past years, I found myself second-guessing my decisions on the court and, while I still have a long way to go, I believe I am a lot more confident and decisive this year. Currently, I am working on my outside shot. As a point guard, a lot of my shots come from the 3-point range or around the foul line so I am trying to improve my percentages from those areas. Also, I am always trying to improve my free throw shooting.
Q: What (in your opinion) has been the most memorable experience as a Sacred Heart basketball player?
A: In the past three years with this team, there has been a lot of great memories, like the district championship my freshman year, Eileen [Piombino] getting her 1,000th point last year and qualifying for States three years in a row. However, I think the closeness of our team, both to each other and to the alumni, is really something special and I have been lucky to be a part of that.
Q: Tell us a little about your start in competitive basketball. Who have been your most important basketball mentors; and what was the most important thing you learned from each of them?
A: I have been playing basketball pretty much since I could walk. From kindergarten to eighth grade, my coach was my mom and she has been one of the best mentors I could have. She taught me almost everything I know about the game and I am so grateful for that. Another coach I had who impacted me was Alvin Williams. He coached me in seventh and eighth grade and showed me the importance of dedication to both the game and to your teammates. Finally, Coach Shuler, who is also my math teacher, has been an amazing mentor. He helped me transition from middle school basketball to high school basketball and created such a supportive environment to play in. By putting his trust in me, he taught me how to believe in myself.
Q: What would you like to major in at college? Is there a career path that particularly interests you at the present time?
A: Currently, I am really interested in medicine, so I would like to study biology or chemistry and hopefully attend med school one day. My goal is to pursue a career in pediatrics.
Q: Tell us a little about your pre-game preparation the day of a game.
A: Most game days, I am nervous about being late, so I usually get ready long before I have to be at the gym. Once at the gym, Caitlin Hughes and I have a shooting warm-up we do before each game prior to our team warm-ups. Once our team warm-ups start, we do the usual layups and shooting. A small tradition we started last year is, immediately after leaving the pre-game team huddle, to gather on the court with the starting five and exchange one last high-five with each other before lining up for the jump.
Q: Who is your favorite basketball player, and why?
A: My favorite basketball player is probably Jalen Brunson from Villanova. I have always admired his dedication to basketball and his composure on the court no matter the situation, as well as his commitment to strong academics.
Q: You wear No. 5 for Sacred Heart basketball – why did you pick this number – does it have any special significance to you?
A: I chose it because when my mom played basketball, her number was 55 and I wanted to always keep a part of her with me. I also wanted to have a number that was uniquely mine, though, so I chose 5 and I’ve been wearing it for as long as I can remember.
Fun facts – Kayleigh Doyle
Favorite book: Small Great Things, by Jodi Picoult.
Favorite TV show: Downton Abbey.
Favorite athlete: Jalen Brunson.
Favorite pre-game pump-up song: “anything Quinn XCII”
Favorite team: Villanova basketball.
Favorite place to visit: Montauk, N.Y.
(To be selected as Main Line Girls Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be nominated by her coach.)