Mara Falabee Rallies Athenas With Perseverance, Drive

As the scoreboard buzzer blared to announce the start of the second half, the Athenas ran onto the court, anxious to eliminate the one-point deficit separating them and the
University of La Verne Leopards on Jan. 17. Sneakers screeched on the freshly shined floor as the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps players pivoted through several unsuccessful plays. The score remained at 20-19.

Then, after two
minutes passed, forward Mara Falahee SC ’16 gained possession of the ball and aligned herself with the basket, toes just behind the line. She calmly sunk a three-point shot into the net. The crowd roared as the Athenas backpedaled to the other end of the court, taking the control of the game with them.

Falahee’s three-pointer sparked a tenacious rally in her teammates. With a comfortable lead
behind them, the Athenas pushed through the remainder of the second half and ultimately closed out the game with an impressive 55-35 win, marking the
team’s second win that week and a triumphant career night for Falahee.

During a week
when CMS’s leading scorer, Kim Scamman CM ‘15, was unable to play due to an
injury, Falahee rose to the occasion. In both games against Whittier College and La
Verne, Falahee had double-digit rebounds for a combined 22 boards and 19 points
on the week.

Coach Kristen
Dowling attributes Falahee’s successful week to her commendable perseverance on
the court. 

“It was a time when someone needed to step up. Mara stepped right up
to the plate and did a tremendous job,” Dowling said. “She has always played
hard defensively but pushed herself offensively, and she played with
confidence.”

Although Falahee
is far from the tallest player on her team, her height of 5’7” does
not inhibit her skills on the court.

“Mara is
undersized for her position, but she is full of passion, fire, drive and
excitement,” Dowling said. “Many players are much taller than her, coming
in at six feet or over, but Mara plays bigger than she is with the amount of
energy she brings.”

As
a captain, Mara offers her team enthusiasm, contagious laughter and love of the
game in addition to her tactical skill set. 

“Mara
brings a serious yet comical mood to practices and games—she always knows how
to get us excited,” Scamman said. “She knows the right time to joke around and
have fun, and when it is time to get down to business. We definitely see her as
the loudest and most supportive team member.”

Falahee grew up in Michigan, where she began her basketball career at
an early age.

“Michigan
is a pretty cold place,” said Falahee. “Since no one really goes outside,
everyone is just in a gym somewhere. I’ve been playing basketball since I was
five, and I have never stopped.”

In
sixth grade, Falahee moved to Bradenton, Fla., where she brought her passion and
commitment for basketball with her, ultimately leading to her college recruitment.

“I
knew that basketball would always be a big part of my life,” Falahee said. “One
of my coaches came to me and told me that I should play in college. I found the
Claremont Colleges, and the rest is history.”

Falahee has come a long way from the first time she put on her Athenas jersey almost
three years ago. The only first-year to come into the program in 2012, she joined a
team of only eight players and used the opportunity to better herself as an
individual and as a teammate.

“By
default, she was just thrown into the program and played a lot because there
were no other options,” Dowling said. “Even though we only won nine games her
freshman year, we did great for what we had, and Mara has grown tremendously
since then.”

11 first-years joined the CMS team in 2013, boosting Falahee to a new leadership role as only a sophomore.

“Last
year I made a conscious effort to still be my goofy self but more of a leader
for them,” Falahee said. “Transitioning to being a junior and a captain has
been fun but also a challenge as far as navigating myself and knowing how
exactly to help everyone, since the younger girls respond in different ways.”

Despite her
successes as an individual and the team’s undefeated conference record, Falahee looks ahead to the remainder of the season as a time to improve and strengthen
the team bond.

“As a team, we
have decided that we want to play the best Athena basketball we can, which
means being great teammates,” Falahee said. “Getting to the national tournament
would be awesome, but first we have to take care of ourselves; the team comes
first.”

Balancing a
double major in economics and accounting, Falahee’s discipline and determination
extend into her academic life as well. Even with a demanding schedule and a substantial number of
responsibilities, Mara maintains a positive disposition. Her fortitude is contagious
to those around her, and her teammates thrive off of it.

“Mara
has never been the type to settle,” Dowling said. “She is the first one
in the gym and the last to leave because that is just who she is. For so many
reasons, Mara is the heart and the soul of our team.”

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