Unfinished. That is the word senior forward Chris Kearney uses to describe his career with the men's basketball team at CUA. Kearney wants to make sure that he and his fellow seniors, Nate Koenig and Shawn Holmes, leave a lasting impression on the CUA program for years to come.
"There is so much left to do before I leave. I'm not satisfied at all."
A native of Centerville, Va., Kearney knew pretty quickly that CUA was the school for him. "When I came on my visit, I got along well with the team at the time and loved the campus."
It also helped that his family would be able to come to most of his games throughout his college career. "Having my parents, brothers, and extended family be able to attend all of my home games was a huge bonus for me."
A four-year starter in the CUA program, Kearney has already left his mark in the record books. On January 26, 2013 at the United States Merchant Marine Academy, Kearney became only the 40th player in CUA men's basketball history to score 1,000 points in his career. He has played in a Landmark Conference championship game as well as two ECAC championship games.
CUA men's basketball head coach, Steve Howes, recalls seeing Kearney in high school and recognized his potential talent right away. "I was frustrated with the lack of touches he got in high school. I remember telling him we're going to throw the ball into you until you're too tired to catch it."
Kearney recalls his time at CUA through his development from freshman year until now. "Freshman year, I was more of the utility guy and more defensive minded. From then to now I have become one of the go-to guys on the court. It's a role that I have come to enjoy."
Fellow senior Nate Koenig witnessed Kearney's growth first hand through their years together on the court. "Chris was thrown in to the mix right away as a freshman, which would have been an incredible amount of pressure on such a young kid, but Chris handled it with nothing but poise and control."
Coach Howes focuses not only on the numbers that Kearney has put up during his time at CUA, but in his development as a leader as well. Howes remembers a freshman that was not the most talkative from a leadership standpoint. But now with the inclusion of so many younger players, Kearney has become the leader Howes knew he could be.
"I remember back in December when we were on the road and I could hear the team's pre-game speech before they took the floor. Chris gave the speech and I took pride in that because I remember the player that wouldn't do that as a freshman. It shows just how far he's come."
Kearney realizes just how far he's come as well. He knew coming into his senior season that he was going to have to be a leader not just by example but vocally as well. Besides his play on the court, Kearney is most proud of how he has developed as a leader. "I knew I had to step up and become a leader for the younger players on the team."
Sophomore forward Dan Elliot can see the change in Kearney as well, from just two years of playing together. "Having played with Chris for the past two years, the largest difference between the two is that he is on a mission this year. He will not let this team lose focus and will not take his eyes off of what he wants to accomplish this year."
Not only has Kearney been successful on the court, he has made his name known in the classroom as well. A business management major, Kearney participated in an internship and has maintained over a 3.5 grade point average during his time at CUA. Kearney finds that his focus on academics is better during the season because he has more structure. "I may not be out all the time when my friends are because I'm doing schoolwork. But I know that I have to handle my business off the court to be successful on the court."
One of the most common themes when speaking with Kearney about his career at CUA is his desire to finish his career on top. He wants to go out with a Landmark Conference championship and a berth to the NCAA Tournament.
"My career at CUA won't be complete without them." Kearney and his teammates are doing the best to achieve this goal.
They currently hold a No. 13 ranking in the D3Hoops.com Top 25 Poll and have wrapped up the top seed in the upcoming Landmark Conference Tournament.
When Kearney looks back on his time at CUA he will remember various moments that he'll cherish. Namely, the trips to Notre Dame, the University of Florida, and George Washington are memories that will last a lifetime. "We got to take tours of the Notre Dame and Florida campuses and get a behind the scenes look." Kearney adds, "Playing GW this year was pretty cool as well, since we played against Coach Lonergan who's a legend around here."
Kearney will also remember the friendships made during his time at CUA. "This is definitely the closest team that I've been a part of in four years. There are no opposing personalities, we are all focused on the same goal and I think that's why we gel so well together on the court."
Elliot will remember Kearney fondly as well. "Chris has taught me how to lead not only by being vocal but more importantly by going hard 100% of the time in practice and leading by example. Chris' focus and determination are two things that I will always remember and respect him for."
The relationship with his fellow seniors, Keonig and Holmes, is also something Kearney talked about specifically. "We have a special bond because we are the three who made it through until the end."
Koenig recognizes the impact the Kearney has had on him as well. "Chris has absolutely made me a better player. Just by being around a player like him during the season and the offseason has improved my game."
On the court, Kearney talks about his sophomore season when CUA went on the road to Drew for a playoff game. "I've never seen fans like that. We went out and won the game on their court." He knows now what it takes to get to the playoffs and wants nothing more than to get back there this season one more time.
When asked about Kearney's legacy in the program, Coach Howes has nothing but praise for his senior. "He's been a part of a class that has won at least 18 games a season. Not most teams can do that. Chris has been the model athlete that fits with the program that we want to run." Off the court, Howes knows that Kearney will be successful in life because of the leadership skills that he has developed. "I know he will find those skills useful in the boardroom."
Kearney will graduate in the spring of 2013 with a degree in business management. He would love to continue his basketball career overseas if possible. He is currently applying to different companies with hopes of landing a job in the area.
Story written by Vicky Berry, CUA Office of Athletic Communications