By GEMMA SPICKA-PROFFIT
Senior Johnny Cronin was awarded Capital Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Week last week, following a five game winning streak for the UMW men’s basketball team.
“That doesn’t happen without our team getting two wins that week against two good teams in our conference,” said Cronin, referring to the team’s wins against St. Mary’s and York. “Just doing my job and finishing plays that my teammates set me up for is what led me to get recognized for the award. I credit my teammates for it.”
Cronin currently leads the conference in rebounds per game and field goal percentage, with 9.4 and 69.0% respectively.
“Rebounding is one of my strengths,” said Cronin. “I try and give 100% on every play, and rebounding has a lot to do with effort. I was just able to play my strengths to make things happen and get my team extra chances with offensive rebounds.”
In his four years on the team, Cronin has been able to see how the team as changed. He believes that the culture of focusing on winning and putting the team first has improved in his time at UMW.
“If we all focus on winning and focus on bringing positive energy to the team, then the wins and the success will follow, and I think that’s happening right now,” said Cronin.
Cronin has also been able to see positive changes he has made in himself since he has been on the team, including maturing, being more organized, and being able to prioritize well.
“I think the biggest way that I’ve found success is by going to my professors, talking to others about my problems, and using the resources that are there,” said Cronin. “Reaching out for help makes everything easier, and it builds your connections for the future.”
Cronin also thanks past teammates such as Matt Forest, Eric Shaw, and T.J. Jones for being great examples of effective leaders and showing how to reach guys on the team. Cronin is able to use the skills he has learned in order to lead the team as one of the three captains, along with Jacob Williams and A.J. Robinson.
Being a captain involves “organizing the guys to make sure everyone is on the same page, organizing open gyms, and making sure everyone is on time,” said Cronin. His favorite part “is being able to rally everyone around the team, and to talk to guys when they’re struggling with stuff, or just talk about basketball.”
The team is currently ranked third in the conference, trailing only CNU and York.
“I think the team has done a really good job of staying together and competing at a high level,” said Cronin. “We’ve got a long way to go, but the fact that we’re winning games and still have stuff to improve on is definitely exciting. Beating CNU at home was a pretty good victory because we kind of got the monkey off our back for not beating them for a while, and the guys were excited about that.”
One of Cronin’s biggest role models, his grandfather, passed away last year. Although his passing was hard for Cronin, he has been playing “a little extra hard in his memory.” He feels that the team is playing well this year, and honoring his grandfather’s legacy.
“He was really joyful, and [he taught me] how to not be too serious all the time, to enjoy the little things, and enjoy every day that you get a chance to play and live,” said Cronin.
Being a senior, Cronin realizes that this will be his last season with the team.
“I approach every practice every day with the same attitude: work hard,” said Cronin. “I don’t have too many left as a senior, so I have to really give it my all.”
After college, Cronin wants to work somewhere where he is able to help people and make a difference.
“I really like helping people that are less fortunate and using my privilege that I have been given to give back to people,” said Cronin.
Cronin was able to fulfill this goal on a study abroad trip to Cuba in the summer before his junior year.
“That was such an amazing experience because you got to see how people elsewhere lived and what they needed, and we were able to help them,” said Cronin. “I painted a blind woman’s house, built a brick wall for a house, and helped out in the garden.”
Cronin has also been involved with many service projects in the local Fredericksburg area. This past fall semester, he worked on registering voters on campus.
“It was a little weird to go up and ask people to register to vote,” said Cronin. “At the same time, I really took pride in the fact that people registered and ended up going to vote, directly because of our efforts. We registered around 700 on campus to vote.”
He has also volunteered with The Holiday Project, a nonprofit that organizes visits to people living in assisted living communities. He primarily ran their Facebook page, but he also did some visits himself.
“It was amazing because you get to talk to them, hear their stories, and put a smile on their face because they don’t get a lot of visitors,” said Cronin. “The best part is they love listening to you and just hearing you. Some talk about themselves, and you get to learn about their life experiences in 70+ years of life.”
Cronin has also volunteered with the basketball team. The team annually hosts a Special Olympics Day and volunteers with Fear 2 Freedom alongside other Varsity student athletes. They also participated in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s last fall.
Aside from helping others, Cronin is also very passionate about sports. He is a huge Boston sports fan, supporting the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, and Bruins.
“My dad and mom are both from that area, and it’s where literally everyone in my family is from,” said Cronin. “Those are the teams that I rooted for growing up.”
A lesser known fact about Cronin is that he knows how to solve a Rubik’s Cube.
“I’ve been doing Rubik’s cube since fifth grade, I love it,” said Cronin. “My friend sent me videos via email, and I kinda taught myself algorithms. I used to be able to solve it in under a minute, now I’m at like 1:30.”
Cronin’s tip for anyone trying to learn how to solve a Rubik’s Cube is “you gotta memorize the algorithms.”