2016-2017 Athlete of the Year: Claire DeBoer


Julie Spierer, Special Features Editor

From first grade to NCAA championships, the Bison women’s basketball team’s Claire DeBoer ’17 has come a long way. Her numerous and prestigious Patriot League and NCAA accolades reflect a successful and consistent four years on the team.

When the team is in-season, they practice six days per week and lift twice per week. The off-season is not much easier, with workouts every weekday and lifting three times per week. However, all the hard work seemed to pay off, as DeBoer helped lead the Bison to an overtime win over Navy in the 2017 Patriot League Championship, securing the program’s first title since 2008.

“It was all really worth it once we hoisted the trophy at the end of it,” DeBoer said.

As DeBoer was reflecting upon her basketball career at the University, she realized that she had never sat out of a game or experienced injury, and had missed maybe one practice because of the flu.

“Freshman year was tough because we did not have any full breaks ever, but as the years went on it all became more enjoyable. Over winter break it was fun to bond with my teammates … we’re all super close, it’s like a mini-sorority,” DeBoer said.

DeBoer expresses that one of her greatest inspirations is her teammate and friend, Suné Swart ’17. Swart lost her father her sophomore year of high school, and she began playing basketball within the same year, and has become an All-League caliber player.

“All of us look up to her,” DeBoer said.

Together with Swart and third fellow senior Megan McGurk ’17, DeBoer won 86 games in her four-year tenure with the Bison women’s basketball program, the most for one class in program history. She reflects just how much the team has accomplished together and all of the amazing comebacks, remembering one of the greatest: last season against Lehigh.

“Last year we played Lehigh and we were down 17 points in the third quarter. It was so cool because the whole track team was there. And the fact that we were able to make a comeback was so cool,” DeBoer said.

This season, her senior year, DeBoer switched positions from forward to guard, which pushed her out of her comfort zone; however, she recognizes that it rewarded her with the opportunity to grow as a player and as a person.

Despite being out of her element, DeBoer excelled in her new role. This season, she was second in the Patriot League in both scoring average with 16 points per game and shooting percentage at .484. With her 1,678 career points, DeBoer places ninth in Patriot League history in scoring. DeBoer is also the only player in school history to currently rank in the program top 10 for points, rebounds, and assists. For her accomplishments, DeBoer was unanimously voted Patriot League Player of the Year.

After graduation, DeBoer intends to find a job in sports marketing and development. She previously held an internship position at ESPN in digital sales, and hopes to translate her love for sports over to her career after graduation.

DeBoer considered playing overseas after college, but realized that it just couldn’t compare to the team that she has had here at the University. DeBoer nostalgically reflects that this year was surely too great of an ending to mess with.

“It’s hard to retire and hang up the shoes, but I think we ended on a really high note, because it was obviously such a sweet ending that I am content with ending it. I think I am going to just move on and try to enter the real world,” DeBoer said. “I’ll probably still play some pickup basketball, though.”

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