It was on the second day of tryouts her freshman season at Pomperaug [Southbury, CT] High School that Katie Cizynski was informed she would be practicing with the varsity team from now on. Katie didn't disappoint, proving she deserved every bit of the early promotion. A 2010 graduate of Pomperaug, Katie left with 1,690 points, more than any other boys' or girls' basketball player in Panthers history, breaking the all-time mark of 1,377 held since 1980 by Dave Grant. A 6-foot-2 forward, Katie went on to play at Fairfield University, eclipsing the 1,000-point barrier there, as well (1,197), and earning first team All-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference honors as a senior.
"Basketball molded me as a person," Katie said. "Through the teammates and coaches I had, wins and losses experienced, (nearly) impossible workouts completed and priorities juggled, I have become the person I am today. I am very grateful for all of the lessons, discipline and soft skills that I built over the 11 years of playing.
"... Up until I was 11 years old, I was strictly a soccer player. Though I had always been above average height for my age, I had a growth spurt from 5-foot-4 to 5-11 between fourth and sixth grade. It was then that it seemed obvious for me to try out basketball."
At Pomperaug, the Panthers were 78-23 during her career, winning South-West Conference tournament titles in 2007 and 2010 (Katie was named Most Valuable Player both times). Katie was a four-time first team SWC all-star and a three-time all-state selection. The Panthers were 24-2 in 2010 with a berth in the Class L state tournament quarterfinals. Katie was also an outside hitter for the Pomperaug volleyball team.
She had more career highlights ahead of her at Fairfield, where the Stags made postseason appearances in 2011 in the Women's National Invitation Tournament and in 2013 and 2014 in the Women's Basketball Invitational. Katie was named to the WBI All-Tournament Team in 2014 after averaging 21.3 points and 12.7 rebounds per game during Fairfield's three-game run to the semifinals. She finished her senior season with 14 double-doubles and scored in double figures in 32 of 33 games, averaging 16.9 points and 8.7 rebounds overall as the Stags went 22-11. Katie lists toppling Marist on Feb. 9, 2014, the night she scored her 1,000th career point, as one of her fondest basketball memories. "It took four years to get a win against Marist," she said. "... Surpassing 1,000 points was just a cherry on top of the night."
Also remarkable is that Katie's extraordinary accomplishments came in spite of her affliction with juvenile arthritis, with which she was diagnosed when she was 10 years old. Katie is now a product manager at Jet.com and resides in Hoboken, N.J. She enjoys hiking with her dog, hanging out with her family at the beach, cooking and exploring different libraries. Katie credits her sister, Nicole, whom she calls one of her biggest fans, and her parents as being the greatest influences in her career. "My mom was my voice of reason who always kept things in perspective for me," she said. "And my dad, who was the first to greet me outside the locker room and give me a hug or the guaranteed eye in the crowd I could catch when I needed reassurance."