Lauren Crisler, a finance major and junior forward on the AU women’s basketball team, is having a breakthrough season both as a student and as an athlete.
Last season, Lauren appeared in all 33 games for her team, starting in one and averaging 4.8 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. Crisler also received her second consecutive Patriot League Academic Honor Roll selection last year.
This season, Crisler has been a crucial part of AU women’s basketball, averaging 9.4 points and 6.6 rebounds in her team’s 30 games. She also started and nabbed seven rebounds in AU’s recent 61-53 win against Boston University in the first round of the Patriot League tournament.
Today, Crisler will help lead her team into the quarterfinals of the Patriot League tournament, as the Eagles take on second-seeded Bucknell on the road at Sojka Pavilion at 7 p.m.
“I think that it is a breakthrough season just because I feel like I know my role better on this team this year and going forward for next year,” Crisler said. “I know that I need to put points up on the board and make great defensive stops. I’m not a role player anymore. So, I think it’s been a good season so far.”
Crisler recorded two consecutive double-doubles during the regular season against Lafayette and Holy Cross. After 30 games, Crisler leads the team both in scoring and rebounding.
In addition to her achievements on the court, Crisler’s academic success also helps her stand out. She was recently named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District women’s basketball team in recognition of her scholastic achievements and has also received school-wide recognition as the AU Student-Athlete of the Week in January. Additionally Crisler also earned a spot on the Academic All-Patriot League Team.
The North Wales, Pa. native said she began playing intramural basketball when she was around eight years old, and her family has influenced her love for the game.
“My dad always coached my teams when we were younger, so that was really fun,” Crisler said. “I think my parents really got me into basketball.”
Her mother was a basketball player in college, which Crisler said inspired her to play at the college level. Crisler’s two brothers also play basketball: her older brother for an intramural league and her younger one for his high school team.
“My youngest brother is a freshman in high school right now. He’s 15 years old, and he’s 6’6. So, he’s huge,” Crisler said.“It’s funny because when I was still in high school, we would always play one-on-one, and I would always be able to beat him because he was shorter. But now when I go home, and we play each other one-on-one again, he kills me, and it’s a tough game every time.”
Crisler said her younger brother also provides constructive feedback on her play when he attends her games.
“He’ll always give me pointers and tips,” Crisler said. “Even though he’s younger than me, and I have experience playing the game for longer, he still brings things to my attention that I would never think about, which is really helpful. I’ve been super interested in following his journey throughout high school basketball.”
While her family inspired her love for the game, Crisler said she also looks up to confident, dedicated women in sports, including U.S. Women’s National Team striker Alex Morgan and Mixed Martial Arts fighter Ronda Rousey.
“Alex Morgan is one of my favorite players,” Crisler said. “Ronda Rousey also inspires me because she’s such a strong, powerful woman and has a great voice in women’s sports.”
Rousey, in particular, stands out to Crisler as a woman to be admired because of her toughness, commitment and mental focus.
“[Rousey’s] dedication to her sport, her fight and the mentality she has that she’s not going to lose to anyone, that really inspires me,” Crisler said. “I think that seeing other people work extremely hard at what they do and be committed makes me want to do the same for my sport.”
Due to the departure of several seniors last year, AU head coach Megan Gebbia expected Crisler to step up this season as a leader for the AU women’s basketball team.
“Before the season, Coach Gebbia and I were talking about how I would have to contribute much more on the court this year,” Crisler said. “I was also thinking about how important it was going to be for me to lead the team as well.”
Crisler has taken on the challenge by playing arguably her best season so far and being a mentor for many of her younger teammates, demonstrating the same quality of leadership as her sports heroes.
“I think that as a freshman it’s easy to get down on yourself or lose confidence in what you can do,” Crisler said. “So, it’s important as an upperclassman for me to reassure them. It’s important for me to say to them that they’re here for a reason, that they were recruited to a Division I school for a reason, that we know they’re a good player, and we know what they can do on the court. It just takes some time to adjust to the college level of playing basketball. Just reassuring freshman and letting them know you have confidence in them is one of the biggest things you can do for them.”
Crisler said her new role has improved her confidence as a player and has been a good learning experience for her.
“I think that it’s been a cool role to step up into, and it’s something that I haven’t had to do on this team before this year,” Crisler said. “It’s been an interesting journey, but I think I’ve learned a lot and that my leadership has definitely improved throughout the year. It’s nice to have the other people on the team looking up to me and being able to know what I’m doing so I can help them out.”
Reflecting on the season and her career as a whole, Crisler acknowledges the challenges of balancing academics with her vigorous athletic schedule, but she said the rewards outweigh the sacrifices.
“These three years have definitely been fun, but it’s been a grind,” Crisler said. “Going into my senior year, I just need to remember that this is going to be the last time with my teammates and that group of girls. I just really have to focus on enjoying it and having fun, just enjoying playing the sport that I love. It’s going to be over soon enough. And hopefully if we don’t make it to the Patriot League championship this year, which I think we will, we can do it next year, my senior year, which will be nice.”