The Wolfpacker

March-April 2020 issue

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 19 of 51

20 ■ THE WOLFPACKER here's a choice behind Elissa Cunane's big smile, an inten- tional reaction to everything that happens on and off the basketball court. Some may see only the edges of her family story that are tinged with the tragedy, for the opportunities missed, the experiences not shared. But in the wide, wide middle, there is noth- ing but joy for a young woman living a dream with her parents and older brother standing at her side. "I think the No. 1 thing for me in basketball and in life is to have fun and enjoy what I'm doing," Cunane said. "If you're not enjoying it, you're not going to want to put extra time into it and you're not going to enjoy your teammates and all that." Cunane clearly expresses the joy she feels on the basketball court, win or lose, whether she's on top of the world or getting beat up inside. Sometimes, it's downright annoying, even to her teammates. "My teammates yell at me in practice, 'Hey, stop smiling and beat someone up, push back on someone,'" she said. "I think you definitely do both. For me, I can have the toughness to do those things, but also enjoy it at the same time." The Player Cunane, the emerging star of NC State's top-10 women's basketball team, stands a sturdy 6-foot-5 in the middle of the lane at Kay Yow Court in Reynolds Coliseum. But she's hardly ever there. She likes to play outside-inside, and she's just as capable of hitting a soft perimeter jumper or driving into the lane as she is play- ing with her back to the basket. A four-star recruit out of Northern Guilford High School, she was one of the nation's most sought-after recruits two years ago. As a freshman, she was a part-time role player, something she hadn't done since her freshman AAU team — until Erika Cassell became one of the four players on head coach Wes Moore's team to suffer a season-ending injury. Cunane stepped in to start the final 11 games of the campaign and became a force for a team that won its first 21 games of the sea- son, finished tied for third in the ACC regular- season standings and advanced to the NCAA's Sweet 16. "I have always believed that attitude is the key to success. It impacts your relationship with people, your determination and your willing- ness to make sacrifices. If you look for the positive and the good in everything, then you see things completely differently than if you are always looking for the negative in everything. Many times we have little or no control over the circumstances we face … but we always have 100 percent control over our attitude and our reaction to our circumstances. We have to make the choice to find the positive. I want people to understand that attitude is a choice and we have to make a choice to find the positive." NC State Hall of Fame Coach Kay Yow (2006) Cunane posted 13 double-doubles in NC State's first 27 games this season, and was the only ACC player averaging double digits in points (16.9) and rebounds (10.1) as of Feb. 24. PHOTO COURTESY NC STATE MEDIA RELATIONS BIG SMILE Sophomore Elissa Cunane Has Chosen To Enjoy Life On And Off The Court BY TIM PEELER T

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