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How Traeger traded in her skates for basketball

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PHOTO SOURCE: Binghamton Athletics

VESTAL (WBNG) -- The Binghamton women's basketball team earned its third conference victory Monday after clutch defense down the stretch from sophomore forward Clare Traeger. 

Before the Dallas native was making big plays on the court, she had a different passion. 

Growing up, Traeger's life revolved around figure skating. 

"I was one and a half years old and I'd do five minute lessons on the ice in a diaper," she said. "Skating was definitely my priority. My dreams were the Olympics." 

Traeger spent 11 years on the ice, competing for the United States Figure Skating Association, but during that time, she found another sport she'd grow to love. 

"I started playing (basketball) in sixth grade," said Traeger. "I'd only go to the games, I never practiced. I had a deal with the coach because I was skating all the time."

Eventually, her skating career came to an end.

"Unfortunately God closed that door, and was like basketball's what you're going to do now," said Traeger.

After hanging up her skates and retiring with senior level status, Traeger's attention shifted to basketball, with her competitive play beginning in ninth grade. 

"It was definitely a weird change," she said. 'I've never really heard of a skater going to basketball."

Her success on the ice easily translated. Traeger was named Texas Association of Parochial and Private Schools (TAPPs) defensive player of the year in 2019, and was a two-time TAPPs all-state selection. She was also a McDonald's All-American nominee. 

"Skating you're more elegant, you're graceful, and on the court I don't really think I'm elegant or graceful," said Traeger. "I'm gritty, I'm going to leave my blood sweat and tears on that court."

Traeger eventually made her way to Binghamton University, and said the women's basketball program attracted her because of its family-oriented environment.

"You don't want to go somewhere where you feel alone and I think coach Ord and the staff did a great job embracing me," she said. 

The Bearcats lost all five starters from the 2019-2020 season, opening another door for Traeger. With her sophomore season nearly halfway through, she has stepped into a role she worked hard to achieve. 

"Over quarantine, I was given that time to reflect and be like, I'm not going to be that same player," she said. "I'm going to come out firing, I'm going to take that opportunity that's there and I'm going to work every day."

After turning in her first career double-double in Monday's win over New Hampshire, Traeger continues to aim high. 

"I think that I can further my game," she said. "I can definitely do more on the offensive end I can definitely do more on the defensive end, and I think that's what the team needs."

Traeger and the Bearcats (3-7, 3-5 AE) travel to UMass Lowell for a weekend series beginning Saturday at 12 p.m.

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Nicole Menner

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