Uncharacteristically, Rachael Mack ’12 had been missing three-pointers. Four in a row, in fact.
But, with Colby trailing Williams by five points with two minutes left in a NESCAC women’s basketball quarterfinal, Colby coach Julie Veilleux drew up a play for Mack to take another three-pointer. Mack made the shot, and Colby went on to win by two points.
That’s what coaches and fans came to expect from Mack during her four years at Colby. Not only was she one of the top players in the program’s history, she was also one of the most reliable contributors.
“She’s just so consistent,” Veilleux said. “She isn’t someone who stands out as a powerhouse, per se. A lot of times when she scores, it’s quiet points. But she’s there.”
Mack came to Colby to major in chemistry and joined a basketball team that had won only 31 of 97 games over the previous four seasons. Soon after taking an environmental chemistry class, she became an environmental studies major. Along the way she was also a big part of changing the basketball program.
During Mack’s four years at Colby, the Mules record was 78-30, and the team made two NCAA Division III tournament appearances—the first two for women’s basketball in school history.
“That was something I hadn’t experienced before,” Mack said. “I’d always been lucky enough to be a part of really successful teams. So it was great to go through that process of, ‘Okay, how do we do what we need to do to get to the top?’ I think it really brought us closer as a team.”
It looked like that win against Williams Feb. 18 would put Colby back in the NCAA tournament again this year. But, despite a 19-7 record while playing one of the toughest schedules in the country, the Mules did not receive a bid to the tournament, and Mack got the news while watching the selection show on campus.
Pat Coleman, of the website D3hoops.com, told the Morning Sentinel that Colby was “the best team that didn’t get in—by a significant margin.”
“It was definitely a huge disappointment,” Mack said. “I think some of it was out of our hands, but at the same time, if we had picked up one or two more keys wins during the season, it definitely would have put us over the edge.”
While the ending was sudden, Mack’s career at Colby was consistently outstanding. She scored 1,241 points, tying her for fifth on the team’s all-time scoring list, and made 85 percent of her free throws over four years. After making four three-pointers as a sophomore and junior, she was asked to take more as a senior, and her .410 mark from long range was the best on the team. She averaged 12.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.
Despite that success she remained quiet by nature. Mack was never flashy and rarely let her emotions show on the court.
“Offensively, she’s got a poise to her,” Veilleux said. “She almost reminds me of a Tim Duncan, just this poised assassin. ... You see it when she’s just shooting hoops. She’s very, very competitive.”
As she takes that competitiveness into the world, Mack’s first step will be to back off from academics at least for the time being. Rather than going straight to graduate school, she’s interested in work that aligns with the field she’s passionate about.
“The Career Center’s actually been a really big help with that,” she said. “I was definitely thinking grad school. But they really encourage you ... to not go to grad school just to say you’re going to grad school.
“I’d love to get a job doing something with environmental outreach," she said.
She’s also prepared for the transition from the intensity of NESCAC basketball to women’s leagues.
“It’s a huge part of my time here,” Mack said. “My teammates are some of my best friends.”