SARATOGA SPRINGS — In 1994, Jen Dryer (Pennell) ended her hoops career at Saratoga Springs with 1,518 points, 325 assists, 348 steals, and 228 rebounds. In 2019, Catherine ‘Dolly’ Cairns has broken that point record.
Cairns only needed 10 points to break Dryer’s record, so she decided to score 29 points instead on Tuesday, December 10. The new record to break is 1,547 points.
“It felt really good. I’m proud of myself for it but it’s my role to score, so, I just do what it takes to win,” Cairns said.
Cairns has been a local basketball sensation since halfway through her seventh-grade year when she was pulled up to varsity.
Her love of the game started young and stemmed from attending her older brother’s practices with their dad, Don. The two would do some dribbling and then during every water break for the team, she would shoot around, they would also practice form shooting and ball handling.
Cairns began to play organized basketball in third grade and has been playing “up” ever since.
With graduation fast approaching, Cairns is finally used to the idea of playing college basketball at Rhode Island University, where she will be studying kinesiology. She is very excited for this next chapter and will be at RIU in June and July for summer classes and practices.
“I think it’ll be a lot different. It’ll be a lot faster, a lot bigger and stronger kids. I think I’ll have to adjust but I’m up for it,” she said.
She has built good relationships with the coaching staff at RIU already and looks forward to playing with that team.
“I built a really good relationship with the head coach and just from talking to my head coach and the rest of the coaching staff, I actually wanted to commit there before I even visited campus. Then as I learned more and more about the campus, it just felt like the perfect spot for me,” Cairns explained.
Her coaches this year have helped her in the college recruitment process.
“Both of the coaches have handled most of the recruiting and talking to coaches for me. They have been my biggest help,” she said.
As far as this year’s basketball season, they are a young team after five seniors graduated last year, including Kerry Flaherty, who achieved 1,000 career points.
“We have two freshmen starters, who I think I’m doing a good job setting the tone for them. We’re all very close and we get along well and we’re having a lot of fun so far. We’ve got a lot of young kids on the team and they follow my lead. They know that when it’s time to work, it’s time to work,” Cairns stated simply.
It is clear that Cairns takes her leadership role on the team very seriously and it isn’t just a point scoring game to her.
“We would love to win a state championship, that’d be the goal, but I think short term we just want to win a sectional championship and make history for our school,” she explained.
Winning states would be the first time in Blue Streaks woman’s basketball history.
Cairns does not play any other sports, instead chooses to focus on basketball preparation in the offseason. She lifts four times a week to stay in shape and shoots around in the gym as much as she can.
Pro basketball has been on her mind here and there.
“I’m thinking about it and a couple people have told me that I could. I think playing in the USA would be cool, but I think playing overseas would be a very cool opportunity as well. I’ll just see what it comes down to when I get there,” she explained.
As far as her biggest supporters during her monumental high school hoops career, her parents Don and Kay and her grandparents Ron and Pat are at the top of the list.
With high school fading out and her starting over in college as a freshman, Cairns has advice for the younger girls on the team she’s leaving her legacy to.
“Keep working. Try to get in the gym as much as you can and work on the basic things; you can build on those basic foundations. It takes a lot of time and effort to be where I am.”
If I were them, I’d certainly be following that advice and in those footsteps. Congratulations on making Blue Streaks history, Dolly!