BY CHRIS MACKOWIAK
Featured photo: French waits for a free throw to be taken against Southern Virginia last season. Feb. 17. Emma Reider photo
With practices under way for over two weeks now, the Salisbury University women’s basketball team is preparing each day for its season-opener coming up on Nov. 14 against Virginia Wesleyan.
While SU does feature many new faces this season, the Sea Gulls do return four seniors among other veteran players looking to gain their first conference playoff victory since the program’s last CAC title in the 2014-15 season.
One veteran presence the Sea Gulls will lean on this season is All-CAC second team forward Kaylyn French, who returns to the paint for Salisbury. French has continually improved her numbers with each season in the maroon and gold, leading the Sea Gulls with 11.4 points per game and 7.5 rebounds per game last year.
Additionally, French has showcased the defensive side of her game at times, leading the team with 2.6 steals per game, 5.1 defensive rebounds per game and 1.0 block per game.
Ahead of the start of this season, the Silver Spring, Md. native went “under the feathers” with The Flyer.
What are your majors/minors and career aspirations?
I am a psychology major with a sociology minor. My career aspirations are undecided at this time, but as of now, I plan to get my master’s in social work.
What made you want to come and play at Salisbury?
I liked the campus and the academic programs offered here.
What has been your favorite moment as part of SU women’s basketball while here at Salisbury, and why?
The tournaments that we play in every winter break. It’s exciting to be able to travel to different states to play people outside of our area. It’s also a good experience. My favorite trip has to be from my freshman year. We went to Florida to play, and after the tournament, we went to Disney World.
What do you feel has been the greatest improvement in your game over your career, and why?
Becoming more of an offensive threat. Defense has always come naturally to me, so when I came here as a freshman, it was easy for me to be confident and proud of my defense. However, offense didn’t come as easily to me, so I had to work harder to notice when and where my best play would come from. Coach [Baskow] telling me to look at the basket more helped me a lot, and wanting to be the best in my position made me step out of my comfort zone.
After being named an all-conference player, what have you been working on the most this offseason?
Keeping the same mentality and intensity. Not letting up.
What do you enjoy the most about your position on the court, and why?
The versatility. I have the ability to play from the three-point line into the paint. I can drive, shoot or post up. The freedom of my position is my favorite part because I have a lot of room to do what I want offensively.
What is your favorite part of Salisbury University Athletics or your team environment here at SU?
This year, the positive vibes and good energy are my favorite part. My teammates and I all want to be here, and we all enjoy each other’s company. Whenever we all get together, it’s just a lot of fun. We may get mad during practice, but we can’t stay mad at each other forever.
As you enter your final season, does anything change for you mentally in terms of being a senior?
I just want to go out with a bang. I want this season to be our best season yet. To make that goal achievable, I want to make sure that the younger girls are adjusting well and that all of their voices are being heard. I’m also focused on doing the best I can to make the younger girls better so that when my class is not here next year, they will all still feel confident.
What are your feelings about the squad as you move deeper into practice time?
I’m excited to see where this season takes us. I’ve never felt more confident about a team other than this one. These girls make me prouder and prouder every day. We had a rough start to our preseason with four girls being out, but we’ve made the necessary adjustments and we’ve been getting better and better every day. I can’t wait to start games!
What is your favorite part of campus life at Salisbury, and why?
The clubs I’m involved in. Obviously, I have friends and a circle from being a part of the basketball team, but clubs like ASA, BSU, NAACP and many others have created a whole different community for me to be a part of. All of those people that I meet at those meetings are wonderful people, and I’m happy to have met them. It’s nice to have other people to go to that are outside of the team.
What are your hobbies and interests off the field?
When I’m not in the gym, I don’t really do anything other than school-related things, watch Netflix or hang out with friends.
Where is your favorite place to go for a meal or snack on or off campus? Favorite food?
Cool Beans is my favorite place on campus. Tortellini is hands-down my favorite type of food.
What music do you listen to in order to get ready for game time, or what do you like to generally listen to?
Before games, I like to listen to hip-hop and pop music. Anything I can sing or dance to really gets me going for a game.