By Corey Pollnow
A CCSU athlete casually walks down Kaiser hall in sweats, shake in hand, when an athletic administrator spots her and yells, “Dominator!” This is a normal greeting for Kirsten Daamen, captain of the women’s basketball team.
“[The nickname] came in high school. I blocked a lot of shots. My coach and one of his friends were trying to think a nickname and it kind of stuck,” Daamen said, who plays the starting center from Merrimac, Massachusetts.
Her impact is felt on both ends of the court with her 75” wingspan and 6’ 3” frame.
Daamen leads the Northeastern Conference in shots blocked with 29 (3.22 per game) and frustrates her opponents by playing physical and not letting them go to their desired space on the court.
Daamen does a superb job of hedging on-ball screens and causing guards to pick up their dribble. Try dribbling around the center and you will take a hit.
There’s no time for the opponent to rest against Daamen. She’s active on the offensive boards with 2.5 rebounds per game in the NEC, and she’s also highly efficient in the low post.
Give her the ball and 51 percent of the time she’s going to make her shot, which ranks second overall in the NEC.
Daamen is averaging nine points per game in the NEC and scored 21 points twice this season – at Wagner and versus Wagner.
The move Daamen is most comfortable with is a five foot jumper.
Soccer was the main sport Daamen played when she was younger, but she went through a growth spurt when she was 10 and started to play basketball for leisure in sixth grade.
“[In Middle School] I was tall so one of the coaches asked me to play and that’s how I started,” said Daamen.
While at Pentucket Regional High School, CCSU’s Assistant Coach Glenn Senecal was acquainted with Daamen’s AAU coach, and Senecal brought Daamen to New Britain by beating out other schools in the recruiting process such as UNH and Maine.
Although Daamen’s hometown is two hours and fifteen minutes away from CCSU, her parents attend most of her home games and she mentioned, “It’s nice to have them come [to my games].”
A captain alongside fellow senior, Jaclyn Babe, Daamen and has taken on a larger role this season.
“I’m vocal on the court a lot more than I have been my first two years. That was really hard for me at first because I’m usually very quiet and keep to myself. Also, off the court being there for my teammates is important,” Daamen said.
For Halloween, Daamen’s mother brought a mask and she’s been making good use of the it-hiding behind walls and scaring teammates.
“I’ve gotten one of the freshmen really good… Raven [Mankins],” Daamen said laughing.
Last summer Daamen was invited to travel overseas with the Dutch National Team after her father inquired about Daamen potentially playing for the team.
In April she finished her finals early and headed to the Netherlands where she stayed in a house with some of her teammates.
Not on the team yet, Daamen continued to travel with the team and caught a break, “One of the girls ended up getting hurt, so I did end up dressing.”
Daamen was able to also visit with family and said it was a really good experience.
Daamen said that she’s unsure if she’s going to continue to play basketball after she graduates in May from CCSU. But, she said she has thought about playing overseas for a couple years and getting a graduate assistant coaching job so she can get have her graduate degree paid for.
Besides leading the Blue Devils, her main goal is obtaining an internship at the Connecticut Department of Transportation.