WILMINGTON — When Cape Fear Community College introduced women’s basketball to its portfolio in 2012, Lori Drake played a pivotal role in getting the program off the ground and immediately made the Sea Devils a contender within the Region X Conference.
Four years later, Drake returns to the sidelines at Cape Fear after spending one season as an assistant coach at Division I High Point University. Along with Drake’s comeback is a Sea Devils team coming off a berth to the 2016 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I Tournament.
“There is no better feeling than being back as a Sea Devil, where I was given the opportunity to build the program from ground up,” Drake said. “After spending a year at High Point as an assistant coach, I had the opportunity to learn and grow.”
“Cape Fear welcomed me back into the program with open arms and I’ve jumped on board 100 percent since day one of my return.” — Coach Lori Drake
While Cape Fear enjoyed success in the rankings and deep runs through the Region X Tournament, Drake didn’t have a chance to experience the last year’s run although most of her recruits on the team stuck with the program and helped guide the Sea Devils to a sixth-place finish at the national event.
Like many junior colleges across the country, Cape Fear has to deal new pieces to the puzzle heading into the season with the goal to not only win games, but to hose help get their student-athletes a chance to play ball and study at a higher level as a stepping stone through college.
“As I went into my third season I knew we had to bring in a different type of player, athlete and student in order for us to compete at the national level,” Drake added. “Once we made those changes the program sky rocketed into something special, nationally ranked, producing division one athletes and transferring our ladies out to continue their careers.
“The growth of the program has been the largest piece to the program’s success and just glad I’m back to continue this journey,” she said.
Although the Sea Devils lost eight players from last year’s squad, several returners are back and look to step up their game this season to go along with five newcomers to the team. The hard work during the offseason and grueling practice time has Drake and Cape Fear ready to live up to their expectations heading into the 2016-17 season.
“My squad this season excites me not only because we are talented, athletic, and have winning mentalities, but because they have bought into Cape Fear women’s basketball,” Drake said. “Cape Fear welcomed me back into the program with open arms and I’ve jumped on board 100 percent since day one of my return. We have a very special group of young ladies and look to get better every practice, every game as our season is a marathon, not a sprint.”