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Kierstin Constantino brought yet another crowd to the Nest last week. The sparse flock of teammates, coaches, family and friends gathered in the seats of Las Positas’ gymnasium, all looking to celebrate Constantino’s announcement of her new chapter. 

At a table set under one of the baskets, Constantino sat with a vase of goodbye roses, a basketball and two frames – one showcasing the logo of her upcoming new home and the other containing a picture of Constantino with big, bolded letters reading “COMMITTED” inside the same frame signifying the day. But most important was the paper on the table in front of Constantino awaiting the signature of the Hawks’ sharpshooter. As she put pen to paper, it made it official she was onto something bigger.

Constantino announced she would play at the University of California, Merced. The Bobcats, a Division II program, is coached by Kellie Bernard.  Merced’s best shooter this past season was freshman Leilani Blecha, who took and made the most threes on the team (45-for-166). The Bobcats, who finished 11-16 overall, now add the most prolific 3-point shooter in California community colleges from this season.

“Earning a spot on a Division II team is an incredible feeling,” Constantino said. “To know that the work I’ve put in since I was a young girl is starting to pay off (feels great), and I’m ready to compete at a higher level.”

COMMITTED to Division II UC Merced, Kierstin Constantino leaves Las Positas as the most prolific 3-point shooter in school history. (Photo by Sydney Breckenridge/The Express)

Coming out of Lathrop High School, Constantino wasn’t highly recruited. Her first collegiate season was spent at Wenatchee Valley, a community college in Washington state. She averaged 3.9 points per game, shooting 28% from the field and 27% from 3-point range. 

She transferred to Las Positas for her sophomore season to play for coach Caleb Theodore. She led the Hawks with 26.2 points per game, setting a new school record for the most points scored in a single season (654). She was also named first-team All-Coast Conference and became LPC’s second women’s basketball player to receive an All-American honorable mention. 

“After practice,” Constantino said, “coach would always talk to me about my goals for the season and how I can attain them. He believed in me and gave me the green light to play my game. I wouldn’t be an All-American if it wasn’t for him and this program.”

Theodore recruited Constantino as part of his rebuild of the Hawks women’s basketball program left dormant after COVID-19. In his second season as coach, Las Positas went 6-19, an improvement from his inaugural record of 3-24.

But Constantino is the fulfillment of another part of Thedore’s plan: get his players ready for the four-year level. The Hawks gave her the opportunity to make a name for herself and get to that next step.

“It establishes a reputation here of what we do,” Theodore said. “It really lets people know that you can become whatever you want because we are not going to accept you being mediocre. You can only strive for excellence here, and you will not be accepted for anything less than attempts to do so.”

Top photo: Kierstin Constantino announces she is transferring to UC Merced to play for the Division II Bobcats. (Photo by Sydney Breckenridge/ The Express)

Jakob Arnarsson is the Sports Editor of The Express. Follow him on X, formally Twitter, @JakobA2004.

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