Lone senior acts as player and coach

basketball senior

Point guard Jaryn Fajardo is the only senior on the women’s basketball team this year. She scored 25 points in Chapman’s championship game against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Feb. 24 and is the team’s MVP. Photo by Melissa Zhuang

Four years ago, Carol Jue, women’s basketball head coach, drew up a play to set Jaryn Fajardo up to score in crunch time. Although she was only a freshman bench player at the time, Fajardo secured a game-winning shot and proved she could score under pressure. From then on, Jue saw potential in Fajardo and continued to invest her time in the young point guard.

“(She went) from not playing at all, to little minutes, and then she hit two game winners against (California Lutheran University) as a freshman,” Jue said. “Last year (she) was our MVP and got 25 points in our championship game.”

Now, as the only senior on the basketball team, Fajardo has to step up as a scorer and a leader on the floor.

Fajardo said the age gap between her and her teammates sometimes takes a toll on her mentally, but she is eager to lead the team. She hopes to get to know her younger teammates on a deeper level during the team’s trip to Hawaii this month.

“I see things that the coaches may not see,” Fajardo said. “If some girls are having a bad day or if they are struggling, sometimes I can pick up on that more so than the coaches … I’ll pick them up in ways that are more peer-to-peer.”

Fajardo has always led by example, Jue said. With nine new freshmen on the team this year, Jue said she wants Fajardo to adopt a more vocal leadership role this season.

“It’s definitely more pressure,” Fajardo said. “If I don’t say anything, there’s no guidance with the others because they’re so new.”

In late game situations, Jue prefers to run the offense through Fajardo because of her efficient scoring and clutch instinct. While she is the starting point guard on the team, she is also the primary scoring option, junior power forward Lucy Criswell said.

“I think the role of scoring has fallen on her a lot more,” Criswell said. “There’s been a lot more pressure for her because people who have typically racked up a lot of points in the past have left.”

Fajardo’s roots in basketball go back to her childhood. Her older sister, Miranda Fajardo, played with her in high school and pushed her to compete.

Jue said she has become so comfortable with Fajardo’s leadership that she expects Fajardo to act as a coach on the floor this season.

“She’s a lone senior, so she has to be like a big sister to all these players on the team,” Jue said. “I can’t always tell her what to do, sometimes she just has to take command.”

Fajardo began playing basketball at Chapman with one other freshman who left the team due to injuries and other commitments, Fajardo said.

“Sometimes when I get frustrated with having to teach new freshmen, or getting frustrated with all the ups and downs with the new team, I think back and (tell myself) to be patient because (I) was once a freshman, just like them,” Fajardo said.