Even at the young age of five, Camila Casanueva ’22 knew that she wanted to play college basketball. “I was competitive as a kid [and] knew I wanted to play in college,” she told The Brandeis Hoot in a Zoom interview. As she grew older, she understood that she also wanted to go to a really good school as well. At Brandeis, “it is not all about your sport, school comes first, and as a team we encourage people to join other things” according to Casanueva.
Casanueva finishes her career at Brandeis with All-UAA women’s basketball honors in three seasons. She is seventh on Brandeis’s career scoring list with 1,152 points; first in three-pointers in a career with 169, with 50 of them coming from this (2022) season, making her first in three-pointers in a season as well. She also comes in first in career and season (2020) free-throw percentages, with 87.1 percent and 90.0 percent, respectively. In her final season, Casanueva averaged 12.9 points per game, while being second on the team in rebounding, assists and steals. “I always wanted to smash the records,” said Casanueva. And she did.
Basketball takes up “a lot of time, but it has been well worth it” for Casanueva. “It was never a burden for me; it was something I really enjoy,” she told The Hoot. It feels like “you are working towards something with the group, which is probably what I will miss the most… [it is] what always motivated me.”
“The biggest thing is how close we are; it is a team where you feel like everyone is your friend.” This is what Casanueva was looking for in a team, and this was exactly what she found when she got here.
During her time here, the team has gone through numerous changes; “the biggest thing was raise the standards for yourselves, while also remembering that it is not all about the outcome.” The team worked on “sending a message that it is all about the journey and how we get to be successful,” which is the biggest lesson Casaneuva took away from her time at Brandeis.
“I’ve learned that it is so not about winning. I am not going to think about the games we lost, I am going to think about all the times with the team.” The team worked on creating a close knit community, and that, according to Casanueva, is what led them to succeed. “We are enjoying the process and becoming more of an elite team.”
Leadership was Casaneuva’s area of greatest growth: “early on I would get heated towards teammates … I had to learn that there are leadership styles that work for different people. I learned that you gotta learn about your teammates and their styles of communication, what motivates them.” Overall “that really helped me be a better leader and teammate,” she concluded.
Now that it is almost time to leave, Casanueva reflects on what she will miss the most. Definitely “the relationships,” she said, “being a part of a team and working towards a bigger goal. Being around the team everyday. It is bigger than basketball. We all got here and we are made to be a team, you realize you all have common goals and values.” In general “Brandeis’ athletic community is so supportive and welcoming. Everyone keeps tabs on everyone and wants everyone to be successful. Looking back, the team has come a long way trying to build a different culture,” Casanueva concluded.
After graduation, Casanueva is looking forward to traveling and exploring what is out there. “I would love to play basketball, but right now I do not have anything lined up,” she said. “If I could get an opportunity to play, I would.”
When asked what advice she would give to her teammates, Casaneuva says to “take advantage of every day; it goes by so fast.” “This is going to fly by. Try to embrace those moments and enjoy being with your teammates. Go outside your comfort zone, that’s what makes us all better teammates, people and athletes,” she concluded.