The end of the women’s basketball season will mean more free time for most players, but when standout guard Blake Dietrick ’15 steps off the court for the last time, she’ll be heading straight for the lacrosse field.
Dietrick, who at midseason was leading the Tigers in points and minutes played, is one of few student-athletes who play two sports. “She’s someone who doesn’t like to be bad at anything,” said head basketball coach Courtney Banghart.
As Banghart was recruiting Dietrick in high school, Princeton head lacrosse coach Chris Sailer wondered why the student had not yet committed to a college lacrosse program.
“I was surprised she wasn’t committed and I’m like, ‘How did we miss you? I’d really love to be able to work with you at Princeton,’” Sailer said. “And her answer to me on the phone was, ‘Oh, I’m coming to Princeton!’ ”
As a freshman basketball player, Dietrick shot 46.7 percent in 23 games off the bench. But after going a full year without lacrosse, she realized something was missing.
“I’ve always been a two-sport athlete since I was a little kid,” she said. “If I didn’t at least try to play lacrosse, I’d always wonder, ‘What if?’”
When Dietrick approached Banghart about taking up a second sport, the coach gave her the green light. Sailer, too, was on board, though it meant that Dietrick would miss most of the lacrosse team’s fall scrimmages and preseason workouts. She also will miss the first five lacrosse games — more if the basketball squad reaches the postseason.
As a sophomore, Dietrick “made her presence known,” Sailer said. “She would show up at some of our fall practices and our fall games — whenever she could be around, she made it a point to be around.”
Then came the hard part — competing at a collegiate level after not playing lacrosse for a year. “It took me a while to adjust to the college game, definitely — the pace of the game and how skilled everyone else is,” Dietrick said. She made the adjustment look easy, however, netting her first career goal to help her team to a big win over Dartmouth.
Dietrick also has become a leader on the basketball court. “I think in a lot of ways, Blake has become our heart,” Banghart said. “The nature of her position — she’s our lead guard — is she sets the tone on both ends” of the court.
The early-season tone has been good, as Princeton beat Alabama Dec. 28 for the first victory over an SEC school in program history, then demolished Penn in its Ivy opener Jan. 11. But after falling to Harvard Jan. 31, the Tigers will have little room for error in their quest for a fifth-straight NCAA Tournament bid.