Rachel Calnan, a forward/center, is the lone senior on the English girls basketball team this season.
By HAROLD RIVERA
When the Lynn English girls basketball team hosts its senior night on Tuesday, only one player will be honored. That’s because the Bulldogs have just one senior on their roster this season, forward/center Rachel Calnan.
A team captain for the Bulldogs, Calnan is the seasoned veteran among a group of talented underclassmen who have a promising future at English. Calnan, a four-year varsity player, has led the Bulldogs this season under first-year head coach Mackenzie Charles.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better captain in my first year,” Charles said. “We have regular
meetings and we always communicate about the team. She’s a great leader and has a 3.3 GPA as a student. She’s a girl that I want to surround my players around so they can see what it’s like to lead.”
As a freshman in 2014, Calnan was part of the Bulldogs group that went 25-1 and fell to Braintree in the Eastern Mass. Division 1 Final under former coach Fred Hogan. Since then, Calnan has emerged as a team leader.
“Going from an unbelievable team that played at the TD Garden my freshman season to the team we have now teaches me about leadership,” Calnan said. “I’ve played for different coaches and with different players. It’s been a learning experience.”
After Hogan stepped down, Rachael Bradley took over the program for the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 seasons.
“She (Bradley) was a great coach and did a lot for the program,” Calnan said. “She helped me through a lot.”
Bradley then gave way to Charles, the third head coach Calnan has played for in her basketball career at English.
“He’s (Charles) tough but he’s an awesome person,” Calnan said. “He knows how to push you as an individual. He knows what everyone does before they do it. He’s awesome, I love playing for him.”
Charles has similar admiration for his senior captain.
“She forces the other girls around to be more mature but that’s great,” Charles said. “She sets the tone in practice. She leads with her voice and with actions and that’s rare. It’s hard to find a leader who can lead both ways.”
Charles added, “We get our fight from Rachel. We don’t quit and we fight. She’s our leader and a great example of a student-athlete.”
During her sophomore year, Calnan faced a difficult hardship after losing her father, John, who died in 2015. Like his daughters, John was a star hoops player at English.
“I lost my dad my sophomore year,” Calnan said. “He was a star at English, he was amazing.
Basketball has been an escape for me. He was my best friend and my coach. It helped me become a better person and it helped me build character. Basketball helped me improve as a person because I play for him.”
Calnan, a three-sport captain who also provides leadership on the English soccer and softball teams, comes from a family of athletes. Aside from her late father, Calnan’s older siblings were also stellar athletes. Her older brother, Patrick, played hoops at St. Mary’s. Shannon, her older sister, also captained the English girls basketball team before graduating in 2013. The youngest sibling, Jack, hopes to join the football team at Classical next fall.
Throughout the countless games and practices, Calnan has also had full support from her mother, Kerry.
“She’s my backbone,” Calnan said of her mother. “My entire family has been so supportive. My mom, to have raised four kids, she’s really amazing.”
With her high school basketball career coming to a close, Calnan sees the Bulldogs moving forward in the coming seasons. The combination of Charles’ direction and a group of skilled underclassmen makes Calnan believe she’s leaving the team in good hands.
“They’re going to be perfectly fine,” Calnan said. “They’ll improve even more, without a doubt. Everyone has heart on this team and the drive to win.”
What Calnan will miss most about the team is the family feeling that she’s been a part of for the past four seasons.
“I’ll miss that family atmosphere,” Calnan said. “Everyone has your back and you have everyone’s back. The team’s so supportive. It goes beyond basketball for me.”
Added Calnan, “These girls are my best friends. Even though we didn’t win all our games, we improved so much from last season.”
Although Calnan’s high school basketball days are numbered, she still has one more season left in her athletic career with the softball team. Calnan, a shortstop, feels the Bulldogs are primed for a big season under new coach Cara Crowley.
“The coaches are very optimistic,” Calnan said. “The coaches are willing to work hard. I’ve been working with our pitcher, Lindsey Lannon. She’s working hard and looking good. It just comes down to execution. People need to step up to the plate.”
In her next endeavors, Calnan hopes to study criminology and sociology in college. She hasn’t decided what school she’ll attend, but said the education she’s received at English has prepared her for the next step.
“English is tough in some classes but from what I’ve heard from friends who are already in college it has prepared them,” Calnan said. “The education I’ve received at English is really beneficial.”