Lauren Stack continues to evolve as she nears her final season
Since the Eagles’ 2022 Patriot League title and subsequent team changes, the graduate student has grown as a basketball player and leader
The NCAA Transfer Portal has significantly transformed college basketball. Starting in 2022, players were allowed to transfer to different schools and play immediately, rather than sitting out for a redshirt year. This change allowed players to seamlessly change schools.
While some players transfer multiple times in search of the right fit, some choose to stay and gradually earn a bigger role at their school. This is what American University graduate student Lauren Stack did.
A 6’2” forward from Saint Charles, Illinois, the Benet Academy product joined the team during the 2019-2020 season. Although Stack had limited minutes during her first two seasons, she always made the most of her time on the floor.
In Stack’s junior season, she earned a spot in the starting lineup and helped the team win the 2021-2022 Patriot League title. During the season she showed flashes of what she could do with a bigger role. One notable example was in the Eagles’ 2022 NCAA Tournament First Round loss against Michigan, where she led the team with 10 points.
Following a successful 2021-2022 campaign, the team saw key contributors like Emily Fisher and Jade Edwards transfer to Texas Christian and DePaul, respectively, causing one to wonder why Stack chose not to transfer as well.
“I felt very unfinished here,” Stack said. “I still had really great relationships with the coaches who were there at the time, and honestly, I’ve loved my experience at American. It’s never crossed my mind to go anywhere else.”
Following Fisher and Edwards’ transfers, Stack assumed greater responsibilities as a scorer and team leader. This marked a significant change for the forward who had previously seen herself primarily as a role player and defender.
“I think most of that season we had expected my teammates who transferred to come back,” said Stack. “So, I think there was a little cushion for me almost where I was like, ‘I know I’m going to be a senior next year, but there’s going to be all these girls who are older than me and leadership is going to kind of fall on them.’ And then all of a sudden, it's like I am the oldest person in the room with the most experience. So, I think that was a huge growing process for me.”
As a senior, Stack embraced these new expectations, averaging 9.7 points and 5.5 rebounds during the 2022-2023 season. Whether serving as the team’s primary rim protector or posting double doubles, it was evident that Stack was ready for her increased playing time and expanded role. In addition to adjusting to changes in the team's structure, Stack had a new head coach. Following head coach Megan Gebbia’s move to Wake Forest, associate head coach Tiffany Coll took the reins of the team.
“It wasn't a super huge adjustment for me personally because coach Tiff was my position coach when the old staff was here, so I already had a decently close relationship with her,” Stack said. “I understood her style of coaching and I think because of that I had a pretty easy transition from the previous coaching staff.”
Stack and Coll worked together to lead the rebuilding team during Coll’s debut season.
Her college career has changed Stack’s approach to basketball, and increased her attachment to AU.
“To be completely honest, I did not like basketball. I came into college not liking basketball and that kind of persisted for my first two years here,” said Stack. “And I think I hit a little bit of a switch my junior year when I was like, ‘okay, this actually is kind of fun.’ I think after the COVID year I was a lot closer with my teammates and I think that made it also a lot more enjoyable for me. Basketball wasn't necessarily a dream I was even pursuing my first two years because I was just trying to be here and get through school.”
Stack is currently enrolled in AU’s creative writing MFA program but aspires to pursue a career in coaching after completing the two-year program. Before she earns her master’s degree and faces the world of coaching, Stack plans to have a memorable final season of basketball at AU.
“This season means a lot to me because I’m going into it knowing that this is my last year playing basketball,” said Stack. “I just want our team to be successful. I want to win a ring; I want to go to March Madness. I want to have that entire experience again … I think it would be a lot different for me this time around.”
This article was edited by Penelope Jennings, Delaney Hoke and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Isabelle Kravis.