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Women’s Basketball: Karlie Cronin’s multi-sport, multi-school journey has landed her on Ohio State

Ohio State guard Karlie Cronin runs down the court during the Buckeyes game against the Boilermakers on Feb 18. Credit: Colin Hass-Hill | Sports Editor

When asked to take a few minutes to answer questions about one of her former players, Karlie Cronin’s former coach responded, “About Karlie? Oh, I’ll do anything for Karlie Cronin.”

Cronin, a junior from Fairfax, Virginia, has spent time with three different college teams, which has ended at Ohio State as a walk-on.

Her journey as a basketball player began as a child, but has taken many turns since then. In addition to basketball, Cronin picked up lacrosse during her sophomore year of high school. Aggie McCormick, Cronin’s AAU coach, said balancing multiple sports at one time could be a challenge for some — not for Cronin.

“She has a motor that is unbelievable to me,” McCormick said. “She could go from practice to practice all day long and never run out of energy. It’s far beyond normal. Even having come straight from hours of lacrosse practice she would do cartwheels around her teammates on the court. I have coached some of the greatest kids in the country and she still amazes me.”  

McCormick has been coaching for 25 years and is the founder of the Fairfax Stars AAU team. She keeps in touch with Cronin throughout the year and receives visits from her whenever she returns home for breaks. McCormick said Cronin frequently goes back to practice with the team and never misses a workout.

Cronin had been playing basketball since she was 9 years old. Unfortunately, she suffered a torn ACL during her junior year of high school and could not play during July, a key recruiting prior for young athletes. As a result of her injury, she ended up at Southern Methodist University, a smaller Division-I progam than she had hoped for. But that did not last long

After playing just two games at SMU in 2015, Cronin needed a change —and a big one at that. She was neither enjoying the school nor the basketball program as much as she had anticipated and decided to transfer to Ohio State for the following fall.

Her experience was so negative that she was set on changing sports.

“I was a little burnt out on basketball so I just made a highlight tape and sent that to schools to be recruited for lacrosse,” she said.

Although she did enjoy playing lacrosse again in a college setting, Cronin said that she “missed the aggression that comes with basketball.”

After one season as a college lacrosse player, she walked on to Ohio State to give basketball another shot. She practiced during the summer with her AAU team to prepare for the season.

In her first season on the Buckeyes’ basketball team, she appeared in 20 games, but played just 52 minutes and scored two points.

“Even if she’s on the bench a lot of the time, I know she loves being out there,” McCormick said. “She fought relentlessly to find a school that she could play basketball at.”

Cronin seems to have handled what would appear to be a difficult transition quite smoothly.

“She acclimated herself very quickly,” Ohio State women’s basketball head coach Kevin McGuff said. “She was excited about playing from Day One and works incredibly hard to do what she can to contribute to the team and the program.”

Whether that hard work will translate into playing time remains unknown. But given the exit of five key seniors from the team, an increased reliance on Cronin might come sooner than many people expect.

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