Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Pair of walk-ons thrilled to be on board at UConn

Not saying it has been a long time since UConn had more than one walk-on but the last time it happened current walk-ons Tierney Lawlor and Briana Pulido weren't born yet.

Over the years there have been occasional wannabes who tried to make the cut as a walk-on only to realize that the time, energy and sacrifices were simply too much.

However, for Taylor, a former Ansonia High three-sport star, and Pulido, who was recruited to UConn by the track and field coaching staff, it has become a dream come true to join the defending national champions.

"I came to UConn strictly for academics, when I found out about the tweet (from Breanna Stewart) I said 'why not give it a shot,'" Lawlor said. "Just the opportunity to try out  is awesome so being able to make the team is even better."

As Lawlor mentioned, Stewart sent out a tweet inviting UConn students to try out for the team since the Huskies only have nine scholarship players for the upcoming season.

Make no mistake, the process of becoming a walk-on is not an easy one because if it were there would be multiple walk-ons every season,

"It is a lot," Pulido said. "Preseason is pretty tough and then individuals with the coaches is good because it is 1 on 1 stuff and then it is into practices, three hour practices."

Both players got into the Huskies' preseason opener against Gannon with Pulido hitting a basket and following that up with a fist pump and huge smile as she ran down the court.

"It was great, it was awesome," Pulido said. "It was the first game of the season and I got my first shot."

Pulido has taken on the role of high fiving her teammates after a 3-pointer is made.

"It is definitely good for me because it is not my personality but it is bringing it out of me and I like it," Pulido said.

Pulido's status as a walk-on is actually not entirely accurate. She received some scholarship money to compete in track and field at UConn and that money has been transferred over to basketball as she no longer is a member of the track and field program.

"I was doing track last year and in the spring right after they won a national championship, Stewie had tweeted  about how they needed walk-ons and I said this is not an opportunity I want to pass up," Pulido said. "I talked to the coaches and played with the girls in scrimmages. I knew I had to pick one (sport) over the other and I knew what it was going to be."

For Lawlor, who estimated that she attended about 50 UConn games as a fan, this is truly a dream come true.

"I have no idea what to expect so I will just go with the flow," Lawlor said. "I remember watching Diana Taurasi and Maria Conlon and being here is pretty cool.

"It didn't really hit me until about a week after I found out I made the team," Lawlor said.

Lawlor and Pulido have been quickly accepted by their teammates who admire the tenacity it takes to become a walk-on at UConn.

"They come in and give us energy off the bench and in practice they work hard every day so you can't ask for anything else," sophomore guard Moriah Jefferson said. "It takes a a lot of guts to come to a place like this and walk on. I take my hat off to them every day when they come to practice."

With Jefferson sitting out tonight's game against Division II Philadelphia perhaps there will be even more playing time for Lawlor and Pulido.


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