Prep Profile: Kimball Union Academy
For our next profile, we head to the New Hampshire/Vermont border to Kimball Union Academy. Kimball Union is one of the oldest boarding schools in the United States, making it fitting that they have a coach who has invested 18 years as the head of the girls’ basketball team. Coach Eileen Williams has an overall record of 294-125 while coaching the Wildcats, and they have earned a bid to the NEPSAC Class C playoffs in each of her seasons at the helm. In those playoff berths, the Wildcats have played in the title game 11 times, and of those 11 have won a championship 5 times.
During the 2014-15 campaign, Coach Williams’ group started the season very slowly, going 2-4 over their first 6 games. With some key victories over rival Proctor Academy and powerhouse New Hampton, the Wildcats found their confidence in January. Using hot 3 point shooting, KUA scored a season high 82 points in a win over Cushing Academy - a game where they hit 11 from behind the arc. They finished the season strong with road wins over New Hampton and Governors Academy, and went on to drain 12 and 11 threes respectively in the first two games of the NEPSAC Tournament. Those wins gave them their 4th consecutive trip to the championship game, a rematch from the 2014 finals between the Wildcats and Hamden Hall (CT). This time around, Hamden Hall was hungry for revenge and came out on top. KUA looks to get back to the championship game again this season.
This year, the Wildcats will look to replace some major contributors from the class of 2015. Shannon Walsh (Uconn/Soccer), Taylor Ong (Skidmore), and Abby Kelly (Bowdoin) left big shoes to fill. Returning this year are 3 starters from last year’s campaign; 4 year starter and Lakes Region League All-Star Miranda Judd leads the charge, she is a scrappy hard nosed defender who can play the point and knock down shots from deep. Christina Ryan, a sophomore point guard, will be looked upon to run the offense this season. She was a deep threat last season, knocking down 41 threes as a freshman. She also brings speed and grit to the defensive side of the ball. Another sophomore, Taylor Soule, garnered lots of attention on the AAU circuit this past summer. Her speed, impressive wingspan and incredible athleticism make her a very tough match up. Last season, she led the wildcats in rebounds as a freshman and was named to the NEPSAC All-Star team.
This season, KUA welcomes a few potential impact players to the squad. Ellie Bankert is a junior who comes from Mill River, VT. She is already committed to UVM for soccer, but she brings experience, speed and talent to a young Wildcats team. Catherine Beaupre and Sarah Heiskell-Mann are two freshmen who should see significant playing time this winter. Both play AAU for the same club and are already familiar with each other on the court.
Coach Williams knows KUA will face a competitive schedule this season. Tilton, Holderness, New Hampton and Proctor all have depth and talent. Couple that with the losses KUA had to graduation, and this year may be another slow starting campaign. The Wildcats could take some time to settle into roles and find their groove, but coach Williams is confident that with speed, teamwork and athleticism the team will be competitive. Coach said, “We must commit to competing every time we step on the court and maintain a positive attitude when bumps in the road occur.” The Wildcats will be a fun team to watch this season with an up-tempo pace, lots of full court pressure and fast break action after forcing turnovers. They look to have a strong finish in January and February and enter playoff action on a high note, maintaining the success KUA has had in the post season.
Kimball Union Academy is a private boarding school located in New Hampshire. Founded in 1813, it is the 22nd oldest boarding school in the United States.