Come winter, the Boston University women’s basketball team will be without a significant force to which it has become accustomed during the last four years.
That force, former forward Caroline Stewart, will not be gone from the hardwood altogether, however, as the Topsfield, Mass., native will make her way to Ireland, where she will play the sport professionally.
Stewart said the University of Ulster first contacted BU coach Kelly Greenberg, who relayed the offer to Stewart. Once the former Terrier reaches Ireland, she will be taking on a schedule and variety of responsibilities that would intimidate one without the endless determination that this six-footer so often displayed on the court.
Not only will Stewart be playing in the Irish Superleague for the Ulster Rockets out of Belfast, Ireland, but she will also be a member of the Ulster University women’s basketball team. On top of her positions on such higher-level basketball teams, Stewart said she plans to pursue a master’s degree at the university.
“[Stewart] grew here at BU, and she had such a great experience on the court and off the court, and I think she wants to keep doing it,” Greenberg said. “She has a passion for it and doesn’t want to give it up yet, and this is a great opportunity for her to keep going.”
To round out her responsibilities, Stewart mentioned one final activity that highlights her good nature and her willingness to give back to the basketball community.
“I’ll be working with a Sports Changes Life,” Stewart said. “I’ll be working with at-risk youth and working with young kids and coaching them and being a part of their life for about a year.”
Stewart mentioned a blog that she will be running for the organization during her stay overseas. It can be found on the Sport Changes Life Facebook page.
In spite of her busy schedule, Stewart said she is excited to experience the European culture.
“I think I’m up for it,” Stewart said of the grand endeavor. “I think it’ll be very similar to a college schedule of always going, and I think I’m a little bit used to that. It’ll be different because it’ll be such a new place, but I’m very excited for the change … I’m going to be playing all over Ireland, so it’ll be great to travel and see the whole country.”
It is certainly no surprise that Stewart received an offer to play at the next level. Her presence in the paint was felt for a total of 122 games between 2008 and 2012, good enough for fifth on BU’s all-time list.
In her 122 games as a Terrier, she scored 737 points and grabbed 791 rebounds (fourth all-time at BU). BU made it to the America East championship match twice throughout her four years with the university and made three appearances in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament including one last year, during Stewart’s senior campaign.
Greenberg said that Stewart was a major boon to the BU basketball program not just as a contributor, but as a leader.
“She left her mark because she taught so much to [senior forward Jacqueline Kuczynski] and [junior forward] Rashidat [Agboola] and to [sophomore forward] Mollie [McKendrick] and [junior forward] Whitney [Turner], our forwards who are coming up now,” Greenberg said. “That’s the best way to leave a program. Your work ethic, your leadership and your consistency … you put it all out there every day, and now others learn from it and carry it on.”
The Ulster Rockets came in seventh place out of the 10 teams in the Superleague in the 2011-12 season. Also playing in the Superleague for the University of Limerick is BU alum Rachael Vanderwal, who also competed in the 2012 London Olympic Games for team Great Britain.
“I’m excited that [the Rockets] are in the Superleague because that’s probably the best league in Ireland,” Stewart said. “I’m thrilled to be part of a new team and start that next chapter of my life. I missed being part of a team this whole summer — it’s been weird.”
Now prepared to don a new set of colors, Stewart has by no means forgotten the influence of BU.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without BU,” she said. “The education and the athletic program of the past four years have made me the athlete that I am.”