Tom McKiver/The Mirror

Ask Desiree Pina how thrilled she is after becoming only the 24th player in the 37 year history of the Fairfield University women’s basketball program to reach 1000 points and she’ll respond with a team-oriented answer:

“I’m probably more excited about the win.”

And that is one of the characteristics that defines her.  She doesn’t want to lose.

It’s that same competitive nature that has driven the senior to become an important contributor for the Stags since she stepped foot on campus four years ago.  It’s definitely something that fifth year Head Coach Joe Frager noticed when he was first recruiting her.

“I just loved her spirit,” said Frager.  “As much as her physical skills [help], I think her spirit is really what makes her a player.”

Pina showed that ambition for athletics as she was a part of four different sports during her years at Plainville High, CT.  Basketball was a given, but she also played soccer, softball and ran a little track.

But when it came to making a final decision, she knew that her love was with her primary sport.

“I love it,” said Pina.  “I’ve been playing [basketball] my whole life, it’s the sport I’ve been playing most.  I just enjoy it so much.”

College coaches, including Frager, became impressed with the competitiveness and skill sets that Pina encompassed coming out of high school.

She was gaining attention from out of state schools and even some MAAC programs, but they were hesitant to offer her a scholarship.

Frager wasn’t.

“We stepped up to the plate and offered,” he said.  “She knew we wanted her and she wanted us too.”

Pina would become the first women’s basketball player in the history of Plainville High to sign for a Division 1 scholarship.

Now four years later, both Frager and Pina’s decisions are paying off.  Since coming to Fairfield, Pina has started in all but one game and has been named to three all conference teams.

“I always thought she was going to be a very good player,” said Frager.  “We’re just thrilled with the career she has had for us.”

In her senior year, her game has become even more vital for the team’s success.

“We ask her to kind of be a jack of all trades,” Frager said.  “She plays a little point, plays a little two guard, at 5’6’’ we even have her play a little bit of small forward for us. We try and get her to wear a lot of hats for us and she’s done a very good job so far.”

With a team that starts a freshman and sophomore, Pina’s leadership becomes important as a stabilizing force on the squad.

“She’s pretty much the glue to this team,” said senior forward Taryn Johnson.  “She’s been starting since she was a freshman so she brings a lot of experience.”

Now her fiery competitiveness has given Pina even more success.  She will be forever immortalized in the 1000 point club.

But if you would tell her that her name would be forever stitched on the banner in Alumni Hall she would say, “I also want to see one of our banners for winning something as a team.”

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