Going out on top: Katie Lytle ’14 named Player of the Year

Katie Lytle '14 enjoyed one of the most successful careers in program history.
Katie Lytle '14 enjoyed one of the most successful careers in program history.
Katie Lytle ’14 enjoyed one of the most successful careers in program history, plastering her name over the record books.  Photo Credit: Swarthmore Athletics

By almost any measure, Katie Lytle ’14 is one of the best basketball players to ever come through Swarthmore. Her career success has her ranked sixth in scoring (1,382 points), third in rebounding (1,050), fourth in steals (228), fourth in blocks (85) and seventh in field goals made (495) in Swarthmore history.

As announced Tuesday by the Centennial Conference, Lytle was recognized as the Centennial Conference Player of the Year and a First Team All-Conference selection. The Player of the Year award is Lytle’s second, making her only the third player in conference history to win the award multiple times.

This season alone, Lytle amassed 14 double-doubles, led the league in scoring (17.3), rebounding (12.2) and field goal percentage (51.4) and was second in steals (2.3). She was also named the Centennial Conference player of the week four times and was a Capital One Academic All-American last month.

While these numbers are certainly impressive, Lytle is quick to point out how important her teammates have been to her success. “Having Kayla [Moritzky ’14] has certainly been a big factor for me. She is the all-time school leader in assists and certainly has not gotten the credit she deserves,” said Lytle. She also mentioned the importance of Elle [Larsen ’15] who was recently named to the All-Centennial Conference Second Team for the second year straight.

Having a point guard as talented as Moritzky to call plays and control the pace of the game can do a lot for the team. Just like having a great quarterback, the point guard ensures that the offense is flowing smoothly and the ball gets into the hands of someone like Lytle who can score. Larsen’s importance is not to be understated either. Having talent down low relieves pressure at the top of the key and prevents teams from double teaming Lytle.

Even so, much of the credit has to go to Lytle herself. Her coach, Renee DeVarney says Lytle “is not always the most vocal player on the team, but has always been one of the hardest workers. She has an intrinsic self-motivation that has made her better every year.”

Her teammate Liz Casey ‘14 echoed similar sentiments, saying, “Katie obviously has massive amounts of natural athletic ability, but it’s her work ethic that really pushes her past other players. She was the Centennial Conference player of the year last season, and for some that would have been enough. Not for Katie. She continued to practice and compete with, if anything, an even greater sense of determination and passion.”

Over her four years at Swarthmore, Lytle has built up an impressive resume of awards and recognitions, including ECAC South Region Tournament Most Outstanding Player, ECAC South Region All-Star First Team, D3Hoops.com All-Mid Atlantic Region First Team, Philadelphia Inquirer Academic All-Area Team, & WBCA Division III Coaches’ All-America Honorable Mention.

What perhaps is most extraordinary about Lytle is the way she is viewed and respected by her teammates and how humble she is about her accomplishments.

DeVarney praised Lytle for her performance both on and off the court, saying, “Katie has been extremely easy to coach. She does what you ask and then more. Katie is a low-maintenance player who shows up to work every day and works. She doesn’t get caught up in the drama and is able to focus on basketball when it’s time. I don’t have to worry about her academics, attitude or work-ethic.”

On why she thought Lytle had been so successful over her four years, DeVarney pointed again to Lytle’s work ethic and her ability to be consistent. “She epitomizes consistency. It is really easy to be great on one day, but to be really good and great day in and day out is hard. And that’s what Katie is.”

Lytle’s statistics certainly back up what DeVarney has to say about her. Lytle has always been good, but over her years the numbers have consistently gotten better. Her statistics in nearly every category have improved.

She has left an impression on her teammates as well. Stephanie Lechich ’14 says, “Katie is an incredible, level-headed, compassionate and consistent leader. Her sense of discipline and dedication to excellence is such an inspiration. She knows what it takes to be a champion and executes such a routine all the time. She knows what it means to do the little things in order to achieve greatness on and off the court.”

She also mentioned Lytle’s natural athletic ability and drive on the court, saying, “She is an efficient, thoughtful person as demonstrated by her hard work ethic. While she has such raw athleticism, speed and strength, she has never been complacent and has always pushed herself to improve. Katie is also a wonderful friend and it has been a privilege to be on her team.”

In speaking with Lytle, it seems that her teammates and coaches paint a clear picture of who she is. Lytle said, “I want to make sure that I did everything that I could to be the best that I could. I love basketball so I enjoy trying to put myself in the best shape that I can to play at a high level.”

Lytle picked up on many things from watching the players that came before her. She believed one of the reasons the team did so well last season was because the team captains were able to instill a sense of confidence that resonated with many of the players.

Lytle attempted to replicate the effects of those people in years past, saying, “This year I tried to do many of the same things. I tried to get our team to believe in ourselves and that if we held confidence we were capable of having a good season again.”

In highlighting her accomplishments and looking back on the past four years, Lytle wanted to be sure to mention how much she has valued the support of her family throughout her time at Swarthmore. They have been to almost every home game and have watched any away game they could. Her family consistently reaches out to support her and congratulate her on a job well done.

After her four years here Lytle has made a big impact on the Swarthmore women’s basketball team. Her records, personal achievements, and leadership that propelled her team to an ECAC championship will certainly be missed. However, Lytle’s legacy will live on. She has helped establish a winning culture at Swarthmore, one built on hard work and trust, that will motivate future players to replicate her success.

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