Caitlin Bickle: Heart, soul, glue of WBB

Senior forward Caitlin Bickle takes a jump shot against the University of Texas on Feb. 4 at the Ferrell Center. Bickle continues to do whatever is asked of her to help the team win. Brittany Tankersley | Photographer

By Marquis Cooley | Sports Editor

Every winning team has a player who does the little things to help the team win. Often known as the glue player that brings the team together, they do the unglamorous things fans may not pay attention to, such as playing tough defense, drawing charges and diving for loose balls. That’s exactly what senior forward Caitlin Bickle does for Baylor women’s basketball, and she couldn’t be happier.

“I love that,” Bickle said. “We have plenty of scorers on our team. That’s not something that I’m like, ‘Yeah, I need to get mine. I need to do that.’ I will do whatever these girls want me to do. I will do whatever my coaching staff wants me to do, and I absolutely thrive and love that.”

The Cave Creek, Ariz., native has always been a jack of all trades, even back in her days at Cactus Shadows High School, however it took some time for her abilities to fully manifest at Baylor.

“When you’re a freshman, you’re kind of just starstruck,” Bickle said. “You’re in a new place doing all these things. Freshman year, I feel like I was just there. It was like, ‘Oh, this is fun. I’m just along for the ride.’”

The 6-foot forward said she’s matured a lot since her freshman season, where she averaged just 5.8 minutes per game. The main way in which Bickle feels she’s grown is her IQ on the defensive side of the ball.

“I will be the first to say I’m not as athletic as a lot of other people. I have been through two knee surgeries, which I think slowed me down a little bit for a while,” Bickle said. “I think at the end of last season, I kind of started figuring out charges and positioning wise for me, especially because I’m not as quick as other people.”

Bickle said another reason for her growth is the faith head coach Nicki Collen has had in her since coming to Baylor and working with her over the summer.

“I love her. I really do,” Bickle said. “I’m extraordinarily grateful for her and this staff, the confidence that they’ve given me, the trust that they put in me. The things that I would never have thought about doing on and off the court, I would have never done and now I’m capable of that. They really allowed me to do that this year.”

Collen has asked more of Bickle this season than former head coach Kim Mulkey did in the past, often referring to Bickle as the sixth starter. Bickle is playing a career-high in minutes, averaging 23.1 per game, and has seen an uptick in stats.

“She’s just such a good utility player,” Collen said. “We need the energy that Caitlin brings; she’s like a quarterback. When we’re on defense, Cait is an orchestrator. She’s back there telling people when to switch and where she’s at in help side, and she’s just such an amazing communicator that she lifts everybody. People listen to her because she speaks so effectively and loudly.”

Collen has also called Bickle a warrior, saying nobody plays more for the name on their chest than her, which Bickle prides herself on. Although Bickle said the last few years have been a roller coaster, she has committed to coming back for one more year.

“It’s just home,” Bickle said. “I know I’m from a different state and lived there my whole life, but this is definitely home for me … I love Baylor with all my heart. I would not want to be representing any other school besides this school.”