by Lauren Lustgarten
For some athletes, sports have been all they’ve known since the toddler days. Whether it’s from family pressure, popularity in the community they grew up in, or just because of their love for the game, some go on to pursue their dreams and aspirations in college. Central Connecticut Women’s Basketball star Kiana Patterson is one of them.
Patterson, a sophomore point guard on the team, has been a leader and a weapon since day one. Her life has revolved around sports since she was just five years old. Born and raised in Troy, New York, Patterson grew up with two older brothers and one older sister who got her involved with basketball, supporting her constantly along her journey.
“My dad was originally coaching my brother so I started at a young age tagging along with them to the gym, and ever since then I just loved it and stuck with it,” Patterson said.
When sports become such a big part of one’s life, it’s hard to imagine life without it. Patterson admits that she would not be the same person today if it weren’t for basketball.
“I couldn’t imagine my life without it since I played for so long. Growing up with siblings who played throughout their youth years always helped me along. My older sister used to teach me and tell me what to do on the court at CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) games, and I would always play with my brothers and cousins who would never take it easy on me. So, essentially it was always me playing with the guys,” said Patterson, who gives credit to the males she grew up with for her mental and physical toughness.
As much as basketball has had a positive impact on Patterson’s life, it has certainly shown some negatives at times as well.
“Growing up I didn’t have time to do things normal teenagers did. When all my friends were getting ready to go out on a Friday night, I was getting ready to go to bed because I had to wake up early the next morning to travel for tournaments,” said Patterson. “I feel like that is kind of my identity: ‘Kiana the basketball player,’ but I think I am much more than just that.”
When it comes to the college search, athletes could only hope to continue their passion for the next four years at the NCAA level. For Patterson, it was a no brainer, especially to push to go to a Division I school.
“I had a couple Division II offers, but I mean whose goal isn’t to go Division I? I had other Division I offers as well and I knew I always wanted to be a Division I athlete, so I focused more on those schools that were looking at me,” said Patterson.
Faced with the decision to choose between the Division I schools that were recruiting her, Patterson had to dial in and look at the bigger picture. “University of Miami was also looking at me, but I’ve always liked to think of myself as a realistic person and I knew where I could play and where I couldn’t play,” said Patterson. “That’s why I knew CCSU was the right fit for me because I knew it was a place I could play right away and a team that I could have an impact on as a freshman. I knew if I went to a bigger school like University of Miami I wouldn’t even get the chance to play my freshmen year and maybe not even until my junior year.”
Another deciding factor for Patterson on choosing CCSU was the distance from home. “If I ever wanted to go home for any reason I could and my parents are able to get to games when they can,” said Patterson.
Patterson loves and continues to stand by her decision since the day she made it. She has been successful in the classroom and has been fairly successful on the court as well. Something many sophomores, let alone basketball players, never can say they have accomplished; making the ESPN Top 10. Last year Patterson made a half-court buzzer beater and since has been her claim to fame, but thanks her teammates and this school for a lot of it.
“CCSU is a very large family atmosphere, not only am I extremely close with my teammates, but athletes around campus are also constantly greeting one another and acknowledging wins as well. Being on a team makes it much easier to fit in at a university because you have friends on other teams that can relate with your struggles, and it just makes everything easier,” Patterson said.
Patterson hopes to accomplish a lot in her remaining time left at CCSU, but her number one priority is winning a championship, which is something the CCSU Women’s Basketball team has never accomplished before.