"Something I'll never forget:" Sylvania native reflects on NCAA championship win
Sylvania, Lucas County (WNWO) A week after becoming an NCAA champion, Kaitlin Cole gets a weekend to visit her family back in northwest Ohio.
The Sylvania native walked onto the Notre Dame Fighting Irish basketball team this season.
She played ball for Sylvania Northview high school.
Three of those years, she competed with her older sister.
"It was really fun playing with my sister. Those practices you know, we got in a lot of fights, but I think that's what made me competitive."
Her sister now plays for Bowling Green, but that didn't entice her to apply.
"Not really. Once I knew I got into Notre Dame I was done. I closed my search. She's just really proud of me for doing all of this. I think she's the one who made me do all of this, who made me try out."
Cole was accepted into Notre Dame for academics and didn't intend to play basketball.
After a year off the court, Kaitlin Cole's Notre Dame basketball journey started this past Fall with tryouts.
"My mom told me to email them and they emailed me back about the tryouts coming up. I was in the recreation center every single day shooting, running to get prepared. I wasn't prepared enough," joked Cole.
She made the team and didn't expect to get a lot of playtime as a walk-on, but several injuries on the team opened up some opportunities.
Cole ended up playing in 23 games and scored 29 total points.
She had a front row seat for the championship game in Columbus--and of course, the buzzer-beater.
"I was right behind Arike when she made that shot, so I had the prime seat In the house. I couldn't believe it, but is soon as it left her hand I knew it was going in. It's just one of those moments you'll never forget. I think I was the first one off the bench on the court and the game wasn't even over yet.
Even though she didn't play in that game, Toledo was well represented in the stands
"All my family and friends were there. I used up all of my tickets and asked people for more. Seeing them in the crowd made my heart happy. It's nice to share this with my family. They are all so proud of me. I just want to thank all of them for believing in me. This is big this is big."
If you would have told Cole this time last year that she'd be part of the championship team, she wouldn't have believed you.
"I would have said you're crazy. Get out of here. I would've never thought I would be here a year ago. So it's amazing."
Cole says her high school coach was the first person to text her after the game, and it's nice to know she still has that local connection.
If the Fighting Irish invite her back next season, she says she'd be thrilled to do it all again.