The Republican: 'AIC Reserve Looms Large'
AIC reserve looms Large
By MIKE BOGEN, The Republican
At 7 a.m. the morning of her 26th birthday, Molly Large was running suicides with her teammates on the American International College women's basketball team.
"A couple of years ago, if anyone had asked me if I'd be doing that when I turned 26, I'd have thought they were crazy," says Large, an MBA candidate at AIC, who is a reserve guard on the Yellow Jackets basketball team.
And while finishing her eligibility while on scholarship as a grad student might not in itself be considered all that unusual, the fact that the former player at Ferris State (Mich.) University is 26 years old makes her different from all her teammates and almost all her foes.
"I really thought I'd satisfied my need to compete when I was at Ferris State," says Large, who graduated with a year of eligibility remaining because she was been red-shirted as a sophomore because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament. "I was at Ferris State on a basketball scholarship. I didn't get much playing time my freshman year, missed my sophomore year, was a sub my junior year and averaged about 10 points and grabbed some rebounds my senior year.
"At end of my senior year I felt I was done, and had no problem with it. When I was a senior, my coach (Tracy Dorow) wanted me to stay on, start grad school and play another year, but I was ready to enter the work force," Large says."
Large may have been ready for the work force, but college basketball wasn't quite done with her.
During her freshman year at Ferris State, the Lansing, Mich., native - then Molly Potvin - met classmate Trevor Large, a Canadian who played hockey for the school. The couple has been together ever since, surviving two and a half years after graduation when she lived and worked in Detroit and he in Toronto en route to getting married last summer.
Trevor Large is also a graduate student at AIC, and an assistant hockey coach.
"He (Trevor) went to AIC in September of 2006," Molly Large says. "He knew he wanted to get into college coaching, and the grad assistant position at AIC was a foot in the door.
"We got engaged just before he came out here, planning to get married in the summer of '07 so we decided I'd join him in Springfield, at that point just to work. I came out here in January and started working for the (Naismith Basketball) Hall of Fame in April," she says.
The next part of Large's journey to the Yellow Jackets basketball team began in May when she met then-head coach Pete Cinella and assistant Kristen Patterson socially in mid-May.
"It was basically my meeting my fiancee's co-workers. Trevor was out with a bunch of coaches, having drinks at Uno's, and I joined them when I was finished at the Hall of Fame," Large recalls. "It came up in conversation that I'd played college ball, and Trevor joked that I still had eligibility. Pete said, 'Oh you should come play for us.'"
Cinella wasted no time. He googled Large, found her stats and told Trevor, "We could really make this work if she's serious about it," according to Molly.
Suddenly, Molly Large was enrolled in grad school on a basketball scholarship, with a meal plan.
Then Cinella left to coach Division I.
"I thought when Pete left, that the deal would be null for sure. But Pete told me that Kristen was going to be up for the job and that if she got it, the deal was still on," Large says.
At that point, neither Cinella nor Patterson had seen Large play basketball, but true to their word, when Patterson was named head coach, "Kristin told me she'd love to have me," Large says.
"True, we hadn't seen Molly play, but we knew her stats, and Pete called her coach at Ferris State. Tracy told us how hard Molly worked and that she was a leader. She's a leader and a high-energy player, and that's what we needed," Patterson says.
And what Large needed was to get in shape.
"The last time I'd played competitive basketball was in April, 2004," Large says. "I was playing golf and some co-worker softball, doing yoga and a little cardio, because I like to lead a healthy lifestyle, but I wasn't running.
"I had the summer to get into basketball condition and I worked out three-four days a week, shooting, lifting, doing cardio. I worked really hard, and in October I was in fairly good shape. I'd lost some strength from my senior year, but I at least knew where a college athlete should be and that I wasn't there yet. I've got my cardio and stamina, but I'm still working on the strength."
While Large hasn't exactly been the second coming of Kristen Patterson for the Yellow Jackets - she averaged 7.8 minutes, 1.3 points and 1.5 rebound in AIC's first eight games - the coach is more than happy with, and optimistic about, her contributions on and off the court.
"Molly gives us toughness and a lot of experience," Patterson says. "She played in a really good conference at Ferris State, so she knows Division II basketball and what it takes to be successful.
"She has an upbeat personality and helps in the locker room and practice, too. She's a little rusty because she hasn't played, but she's definitely going to help us in second semester," she says.
Large's presence has been an adjustment for all concerned, one that all feel has gone without a hitch.
"I guess the biggest thing is realizing that I feel like the last two-and-a-half years of my life haven't happened yet," Large says. "It's like Trevor and I are back in college."