Text and photos by Steev Riccardo
Now that Oxford High School 2006 graduate Kirsten Doldoorian can look back at her great basketball career and achievements, she can do so proudly, but also realize just how far she has come since then.
Doldoorian, who is only one of four girls to ever score over 1000 points at Oxford High School, and is second only to former WNBA/UConn star Carla Berube, recently reflected on her high school career and all the amazing series of things that have happened to her since then.
The former high school and college star, who is currently assistant basketball coach and head cross country coach at Daniel Webster College in Nashua, New Hampshire, has done so much since high school that, like fellow OHS graduate Berube, those accomplishments pale in comparison to what has happened since.
In her junior year at NCAA Division 2 power Franklin Pierce College, she and her teammates made it to the NCAA final game before bowing out in the nationally televised ESPN game.
“Its pretty cool to come back and see my name up on the wall, but honestly, in comparison to the championship run, it’s nothing to me,” said Doldoorian, “and I would take the experience with my college team over that individual accomplishment any day.”
Doldoorian grew up in Brimfield and came to Oxford High School as a 14-year-old freshman as part of the school choice program to play for her uncle John Doldoorian, Oxford’s current athletic director and one of the school’s most heralded ex-basketball coaches.
She was on the varsity team her freshman year and while still learning the game from the older kids, had a good rookie season, taking into account things she learned as a youngster keeping shot charts for her uncle.
During that time she was also able to watch a former Oxford player, Shalyn Polinski, whom she viewed as a role model. “She was my big inspiration growing up, she was a point guard, and helped me through a lot of basketball things.”
During that freshman campaign, she was a reserve and did get some significant playing time, contributing 200 points as her team won the SWCL and reached the districts.
She had to “step it up” her sophomore year and became the team’s starting shooting guard and leading scorer. It was obvious that she was on her way to making history in an orange and black uniform and the stage was set for her and her team to go to the next level.
“Our junior year was a big year, we made a run and went to the districts and lost in the state semi-finals.” She was also piling the points and gearing up for a record-breaking senior year.
Although she had that great individual senior year and led the team in scoring and helped the squad win the SWCL and make the districts, they fell short as a team in the playoffs.
Her amazing high school career was over and it left her with two Central Mass All-Star selections and third all-time on the Oxford High School basketball scoring list with 1461 points, behind only Berube (2190), and the great Billy “The Kid” Herrion (1521). That is some pretty good company.
She also had a coach who worked her hard and prepared her for a college career. “He was very intense, wanted things done the right way. He was a lot harder on me the minute I stepped in the door here, more than everyone else. More was expected because you are always harder on your family.”
One important decision that she made after her sophomore year was to stop playing soccer for the Pirates, which wasn’t easy since she was the second leading scorer in SWCL. Still, it was something she chose to do to focus on basketball, so she played AAU and the recruiters were already eyeing her.
Once her senior year arrived she had already been through a heavy recruiting process and it was time to decide where she would further her education and play ball.
“I had a lot of choices to make and I chose St. Anselm’s College in Manchester, NH. They offered me a full scholarship to play for Monica Golamaga, who was one of the nicest ladies I knew; she was a genuine person, great coach, and I thought it would be a really good fit for me at the school and it was beautiful there.”
Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned. She had two major injuries, a broken disc in her back and a season- ending torn ACL in her freshman year. On top of that, the coach who had recruited her left the college after her freshman season to coach elsewhere.
Despite having what she called a decent freshman year in which she started six or seven games, the injury and the coaching change was suddenly a burden.
“We had a new coach and I struggled a bit, he had a brand new system, plus coming back from the knee injury, it was really hard for me to adjust and fit into what he expected me to do while being a step slower so that is when I started to look to transfer.”
“I was really unhappy there, between basketball and my life, there had to be a better fit. Playing time was a big factor and we weren’t winning games. The coach told me I was a strong offensive weapon and he didn’t know how to fit me into his system and that was the icing on the cake.”
A lot of people may have given up at the point and focused on school and other things but that wasn’t in Doldoorian’s blood, playing basketball was.
“I called every program in the league. I knew I wanted to stay in the Division 2 in the northeast ten conference. It was one of the most competitive in the country for Division 2 and having most of the coaches recruit me out of high school, I figured I might get lucky with something.”
“I was set to go to AIC, I had visited them, talked to the coach, and then at the last minute Franklin Pierce offered me a scholarship to go there and play so I took that and it was one of the best decisions I ever made.”
Franklin Pierce had just made a run at the national championship. They had a really strong team and were an elite 8 contender the year before Doldoorian arrived. It was a solid program that was about to get even stronger.
“I knew they were a really strong team and I knew I wanted to fit in and be a role player. I turned my focus to the team rather than be an individual; it was a little bit of an adjustment.”
She became the team’s sixth man and things started to click. Even though it was her third coach and third system in three years, she made in happen.
Her team made it all the way to San Antonio, Texas, and the NCAA Division 2 finals before losing to a much bigger Minnesota state team.
“It turned out being the highest scoring game in Division 2 national championship history. It was heartbreaking loss, we completely believed in ourselves.” Despite the tough loss, she said, “the entire experience was really great and something that I will never forget.”
In her senior year the team made another run before bowing out in the NCAA semi-finals in St. Joseph’s, Missouri, but it was that junior year that she will always remember most.
“It paid off 110% for me, transferring to Franklin Pierce and being part of the final four team. It defined my entire college career for me.”
Doldoorian had a chance to play overseas but passed and instead focused on working on her career and took her Criminal Justice degree and became a New Hampshire State Trooper.
“After five months I decided it wasn’t for me and it wasn’t what I wanted to do. That is when I decided that I needed to get back to what I loved the most and that was basketball.”
This past season, Daniel Webster College in Manchester, NH, had an opening for an assistant basketball coach and she was hired and also accepted the schools cross-country coaching job. She has been retained by the school for next season and now has made it her main goal to become a head coach in Division 2 or and assistant coach in Division 1.
As far as her entire experience thus far, she offers this advice to the kids. “School comes first always; you would never want your grades to hold you back. Secondly, get out there and play and practice and get better and get where you want to be.”
At only 24 years, Kirsten Doldoorian has accomplished a lot, but after talking to her, there is no doubt in this writer’s mind that this is still only the beginning. She is definitely going places.
- Wednesday, 27 June 2012
- Posted in Categories: : Sports