Paro leads on and off the court

Senior Lilly Paro dribbles the ball in a game against Bates in Cousens Gym on Jan. 19, 2019. via SportsPix

Playing in 78 games throughout her time at Tufts, graduating senior guard and co-captain Lilly Paro ended her career on the Tufts women’s basketball team with an impressive 63 3-pointers in just four seasons.

Hailing from Maryland, Paro red-shirted her first year on the team due to an ACL injury. However, she used that time not only to recover from this injury but also to build strong relationships within the team.

“A lot of the things that I learned about being a good teammate and leader happened my freshman year when I sat out for my ACL,” Paro said. “I learned how to support my teammates vocally and what it meant to be a good teammate. I had such great examples to look up to. Just being there for my teammates, doing the little things and supporting them, whether it was on the court or off the court.”

Paro’s leadership was apparent to both her teammates and her coaches, as she was elected co-captain for her senior year.

“[Paro] was the energizer of our team,” rising senior guard/forward Emily Briggs said. “Her energy was unmatched in games and practices and she was always the loudest one. She set an amazing example of what it means to be a great teammate.”

In the four years that Paro was at Tufts, the women’s basketball team went 112–12, making deep runs into both the NESCAC playoffs as well as the NCAA tournament. Reflecting on her seasons with Tufts, Paro highlighted two parts that were particularly special to her.

“Last year when we won NESCACs, it was the craziest weekend ever,” Paro said. “Being the third seed and beating Amherst on Saturday and then beating Bowdoin on [its] home court in a packed gym in Maine, I think that was a highlight of my entire life. It was just amazing.”

“This whole past season, it was just really special,” Paro said. “The team was great, our coaches were great and we really did think that we could do it all, win it all.”

Although she was part of a very successful program at Tufts, Paro appreciates her teammates and the team culture even more than winning titles.

“Our team has always been so close that no matter the result of the game or the competition, I just knew that I had won some sort of championship — I had won like the ‘friends championship’ — because I was going to leave Tufts with my best friends, such a great sense of community, and another family,” Paro said.

Not ready to leave the sport she has been playing since age five, Paro is planning on continuing her career at Smith College, where she will be getting her master’s degree and working as a graduate assistant coach. She credits this future path to her experience at Tufts.

“Going to Tufts, playing at Tufts, playing in the NESCAC, playing in Div. III, I think that’s one of the reasons why I am so excited and why I wanted to be a coach,” Paro said.

Paro was named to the NESCAC All-Sportsmanship Team two years in a row, during her junior and senior years, respectively. This honor shows Paro’s dedication to sportsmanship through her actions as a player as well as a teammate, student and person. Additionally, Paro was named to the NESCAC All-Academic Team twice. She was one of just 39 individuals who were named to both the All-Sportsmanship and All-Academic teams this season.

“[Paro] is a resilient and selfless leader whose commitment to the program and it’s success has earned the respect of her teammates, coaches and the Tufts athletics community as a whole,” rising senior forward Katie Butler said. “I’m going to miss her infectious positive energy the most. She struck the perfect balance between fun and professionalism as a captain and I’m confident she’ll do the same as a coach.”

Recently finishing her time as a student-athlete at Tufts, Paro reflected on her decision to first come to the school, crediting the people and the campus.

“I chose Tufts because when I went on my visit, it was like a feeling I had never had when I walked onto a campus [before],” Paro said. “I remember telling my mom, ‘I love this place, this is definitely the school for me.’ The coaches were awesome, the team members that I met were awesome, too, and I just knew that I could go here, meet some of my best friends and play the sport that I love.”

Leaving four years later, Paro’s views on the school have not changed and, if anything, her experiences have only solidified what she felt when she first visited Tufts.

“I’ve met so many awesome people that have greatly impacted my life,” Paro said, “so I’m definitely going to miss seeing their faces every day or every week.”