Missy Dougherty (@Missyingyou)
It was love at first sight for Caroline Dotsey when she visited the University of Maine last weekend.
“I loved everything about it–the academics, the coaches, the team, the program, the community support,” the rising Haverford High School senior said.
The superlatives overflowed as Dotsey described the process of the time spent building a relationship with the University of Maine women’s basketball coaching staff and educating herself on the program which culminated with her trip to Orono, Maine.
Caroline Dotsey (above) committed to Maine last week after visiting the school's campus. (Photo courtesy Sophia Kahn)
“The coaching staff saw me play AAU for the Lady Runnin’ Rebels at Spooky Nook and Atlantic City and we talked over Zoom and I started to fall in love with the program,” Dotsey said.
Those feelings just intensified once Dotsey set foot on the campus. “During my visit, all of the coaches took so much time to make me feel special,” the 6-foot-2 forward said. “We flew home and then I gave the coach a call to inform her of my commitment.”
“I think Maine checked a lot of boxes for Caroline,” Haverford head coach Lauren Pellicane said. “She texted me on Saturday that she was having a great visit, and I thought maybe this could be it. When I saw she was calling me on Sunday, I knew it was it. She is a mature kid and when you know, you know.”
Holding a handful of other offers, Dotsey knew that she wanted to be part of a Maine program that has been a perennial contender in the America East Conference.
“I love the idea of being a part of such a winning tradition,” Dotsey said. “The coach, Amy Vachon, played there and is in the school’s Hall of Fame and the support from the community is amazing. When I went out with some of the team members, I could see the players are essentially local celebrities with the way they are recognized by the public.”
The Maine faithful will find a lot to like in the women's basketball squad’s latest commit. Earning second-team All Central League honors as a freshman, and first-team recognition as sophomore and junior, Dotsey offers a versatile game that enables her to play anywhere from the three to the five.
Dotsey’s versatility was on full display throughout her junior year as she averaged 15.2 points per game, 10.5 rebounds per game, and 1.5 blocks per game in helping the Lady Fords to a berth in the PIAA state playoffs on their way to finishing 20-8 last season.
Caroline’s journey to Maine will include an over eight-hour car ride to campus from her Havertown home that has its roots in an incalculable number of hours that went into working on her game.
“Caroline came to Haverford at the right time for us,” Pellicane said. “We had just graduated a large senior class and she was able to play a major role as a freshman. I think she started realizing her potential and that she could have a future in the game.”
That future in the game was aided ironically by a time when everything else was taken away.
“During the early days of the pandemic, when everyone was at home, my dad initiated a project to paint a half court on our driveway,” Dotsey said. “He had been looking into it, and it became a family project in terms of taping it out and painting it. It was a cool moment because at a different level I could feel the support and backing of my whole family in realizing my goals.”
Dotsey (above) and her sister Rian push each other on the court. (Photo courtesy Caroline Dotsey)
The hurdle of finding a court to work on her game removed, Dotsey went to work on her guard skills–extending her range out to the 3-point line and working on her ball handling. The process was made that much easier by having her sister, and Haverford teammate, Rian, a six-foot rising sophomore, by her side.
“We spent countless hours out there playing endless games of one-on-one,” Caroline Dotsey said. “Rian is super-competitive and has a great jump shot. She might be my younger sister but I look up to her.”
Their coach could see a recognizable difference resulting from the extra time on the home court.
“Caroline has improved her range each year,” Pellicane said. “She has continued to shoot more comfortably from the three-point line as she has progressed as a player. Even this summer when I have seen her play, you can see a fluidity to her jump shot now. Caroline has always been a good shooter but she wants to be a great shooter. It wouldn’t surprise me to see her take 40-50 three-pointers next year.”
The athletic bloodlines run deep in the Dotsey family as mom Sue Wolfgang-Dotsey was a two-sport athlete (soccer and lacrosse) at Old Dominion University, who earned all-conference CAA honors in 1998 and 1999. Dan Dotsey, Caroline and Rian’s dad, is a member of Cabrini University’s Athletics Hall of Fame for a decorated tennis career that included over 100 Pennsylvania Athletic Conference (PAC) victories, one PAC singles crown and three doubles titles.
And if you want a historical connection to the local basketball scene, the Dotsey girls’ aunt, Rebekah Dotsey Lamdin, a 1995 graduate of Archbishop Carroll, followed up on an impressive career with the Lady Patriots by making her mark at Iona College where she ranks in the top 10 all-time in career blocks.
Caroline is poised to pen her own story at the next level.
“When I started playing AAU for the Lady Runnin’ Rebels, and coach Bill McDonough Jr., before sophomore year, the idea of playing in college started to materialize,” Caroline said. Citing a busy summer ahead with the Rebels, Dotsey will look to continue to grow her game before she takes her talents north. “I want to continue to get stronger and be able to body people and continue to improve on my speed.”
Pellicane foresees big things ahead for Dotsey as a Black Bear: “I really believe her best years are ahead of her,” Pellicane said.
The veteran coach’s optimism concerning Caroline’s future is matched by her gratitude to have Caroline in a Haverford uniform for one more season.
“We are excited to have her one more year,” Pellicane said. “Caroline leads by her play. When she steps on the floor, she is ready to go and her teammates feed off of her.
“We foresee Caroline playing more inside-outside (with classmate Mollie Carpenter), and we can’t wait to see how she continues to expand her game,” she added. “She is going to face some extra attention this year, by way of double and triple teams, and it will be exciting to see how she responds.”
Caroline Dotsey shares her coach’s excitement for the upcoming campaign: “I still have goals to accomplish,” she said. “I want to reach the 1,000-point mark and help the team compete for the Central League title and make a return trip to the state tournament. I think we are capable of getting there as a team and I’m eager to see what people can contribute towards that goal.
“Every season at Haverford has been a fun and enjoyable one,” she said. “I’ve loved every chance to be in the gym with the coaches and different groups of players, and I’m looking forward to adding to those moments next season.”