Senior Spring: Cy Lippold '19 exhibits grit and perseverance from childhood through her senior year

by Gretta Pickett | 4/19/19 2:00am

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Cy Lippold ’19 scored a career-high 26 points against Harvard on Jan. 26.

by Evan Morgan / The Dartmouth Senior Staff

At 5 feet 2 inches, Cy Lippold ’19 does not have the physical frame of the typical basketball player. But that certainly has not stopped her from playing some of the most competitive college basketball in the nation. The star senior point guard, who was born and raised in the Bronx but spent the second half of her childhood living in Pennsylvania, said that her height actually inspired her to get good at the sport.

“The reason I chose [basketball] was because a lot of people said I couldn’t,” Lippold said. “Being 5-foot-2 and not very strong in stature, a lot of people didn’t believe I could play DI basketball, and my goal was to prove them wrong.”

And prove them wrong she certainly has. After four years as a point guard on the Dartmouth women’s basketball team, Lippold has become one of the most pivotal leaders in the program, starting almost every game her junior and senior years and scoring the second-most points per game both seasons.

Lippold said she grew up playing volleyball, softball and basketball, and it was not until she reached her sophomore year of high school that she really got serious about basketball. She credited her father with a lot of her growth as a basketball player.

“Early on in high school, I think [my dad] wanted it more than I did, and then I think it eventually carried over, and I was like ‘Okay, I want this too,’” she said. 

Lippold’s father even went so far as to set up a basketball hoop in her family living room to help her practice during the colder winter months after she complained about not being able to shoot outside.

“We literally had to pull the chandelier down from the ceiling to put it up,” she said. “I would come home every day, and my dad would watch me shoot 500 shots a day. The TV never got hit, which was amazing.”

After finishing high school and graduating at 16, Lippold went on to do a post-graduate year at Blair Academy — a boarding school in New Jersey — which allowed her to improve her game and grow up before attending college. 

“I didn’t think I was physically, mentally and emotionally ready to go to college at that age ... and that was a good transition year for me,” she said. 

Blair Academy, which is about 30 minutes from Lippold’s home, provided a good balance between college and high school, and allowed her to ease into life away from home while developing her basketball skills. The basketball environment was competitive, and many of the players on Lippold’s Blair Academy team went on to play high-level Division I basketball. 

By that point, Lippold had gotten on the radar of Dartmouth women’s basketball head coach Belle Koclanes. Koclanes was immediately blown away by Lippold’s maturity.

“I was just incredibly impressed,” Koclanes said. “She was so mature even then, so wise beyond her years even then.”

Upon arriving at Dartmouth, Lippold did not disappoint. Koclanes said she was quickly dazzled by her “presence as a young leader and the way that she communicated with coaches and teammates, her coachability and her positive energy.”

While Lippold did not get much playing time as a first-year, she certainly learned a lot. Her transition to college basketball involved picking up plays and basketball theory. 

“I came in freshman year thinking I really knew the game of basketball, which is funny because, at least for me, my high school experience basketball-wise was not many set plays. It was kind of just play,” she said. “I didn’t really have an understanding of the X’s and O’s and the fundamentals of basketball until I came to Dartmouth, and then I was fascinated. Learning how to play with a team and play to a certain philosophy was a big growth for me my freshman and sophomore years.”

As for her height, Lippold said that she makes up for it with speed and quickness. To some extent, she believes that her height helps her because it is more difficult for taller players to get low and guard her. She called the 3-point line her “bread and butter” and tries to play with an “off cadence” so that it is harder for the opposing team to predict what she is going to do. 

In addition to her talent on the court, Lippold excels in the classroom and in her extracurriculars. She is studying linguistics and was a part of the Green Key Society. However, linguistics was not always a part of her plan.

“I came in thinking I was going to be a math major and then took my first math class beyond calculus and was like ‘Nope, not for me.’ Then I was the person my freshman and sophomore year who would change their major like every week,” she said. 

The two-time Academic All-Ivy League winner eventually figured out her major and said she has gained many skills from linguistics that will carry over into the rest of her life.

“The main thing I like about linguistics is being exposed to new languages and being able to figure out the grammar of those languages; it’s a very analytical skill,” she said. “It tapped into the mathematical side of me that I had always loved but from a different lens.”

 Lippold is impressive in many respects on and off the court, but her perseverance and determination stand out. Having dealt with several injuries throughout her career, Lippold has learned how to handle adversity. 

Three weeks before the end of her senior season, Lippold tore her ACL in a game against Princeton — a devastating injury that many thought would be the end of her season. Against all odds, Lippold managed to recover enough in just three weeks to play in the two final games of the year with her ACL still torn. Her teammates, coaches and even rival team coaches were impressed to say the least.

“When she got the news that there was potential for her to play in our very last game for our senior night, there was no doubt in her mind that she would try, and that just speaks to her character that she’s going to keep trying until she can’t anymore,” teammate and fellow captain Isalys Quinones ’19 said. “I know that [basketball] means a lot to her.” 

After college, Lippold wants to become a basketball coach. She has a few offers to be a graduate assistant at several colleges. Quinones said that Lippold will make an excellent coach.

“She’s going be very similar to coach [Koclanes] in the sense that she’s going respect her team really well and try to teach them as people and not as subordinates,” Quinones said. “I think this is what she’s meant to do, and I know that she’ll love it.”