College Sports

‘That will always mean so much to me’: Caroline Ducharme, Milton native and UConn guard, relishes hometown support

"I'm really lucky to have had that kind of support back here."

Caroline Ducharme
Connecticut's Caroline Ducharme says she should be ready for the season. AP Photo/Jessica Hill

Milton native Caroline Ducharme didn’t need long to establish herself as a contributor for UConn women’s basketball in her freshman season.

Ducharme scored just four points total in her first four games — all in a 30-point win over Minnesota. But in early December, Ducharme dropped 14 points in a big win over No. 24 Notre Dame — burying three of the five 3-pointers she attempted.

The difference?

“Before that, I was overthinking things,” Ducharme told “I was trying to focus on not messing up.”

Ducharme was one of the nation’s top prospects — a superstar high-school player at Noble and Greenough School in Dedham and the 2020 Gatorade Player of the Year in girls basketball. She knew she belonged at UConn.


Still, conversations with coaches, friends, and family helped remind her that her place was well deserved.

“Just kind of turning that switch, and everything clicked,” Ducharme said. “That was the big moment for me.”

That game jumpstarted Ducharme’s season. She reached double-digit scoring in nine of her next 11 games, including a season-high 28 points against St. John’s in January. The Huskies — as is their custom — made a deep run in the tournament, finally falling in the NCAA Finals to South Carolina.

Along the way, Ducharme nursed an injury to her left hip labrum, which she initially suffered in high school. After the season, she had surgery to repair it, and she remained on campus in Storrs, CT to rehab.

Last weekend, however, she returned to her hometown in Milton and hosted a basketball camp at Milton Academy with her sister Ashley — a former forward at Brown University.

For Ducharme, being back in Milton after a year spent in the UConn women’s basketball whirlwind was surreal but rewarding.

“I’m really lucky to have the support of the community back here at home,” she said. “I felt it when I was at school, but it’s a different feeling when you’re actually back in it. Seeing little girls with UConn stuff, and knowing my name wearing my jersey, wearing [Ducharme’s jersey number] 33, stuff like that. I’m really lucky to have had that kind of support back here.


“I think everyone knows the UConn fan base in Storrs is amazing, and it’s loud. … So it’s been cool to be able to come back here and still kind of feel that same support from my hometown and that that will always mean so much to me.”

Ducharme is making the most of her summer. Her surgery was a success and she expects to be ready for the upcoming season. Recently, she began shooting again without much jumping, and she has spent some time on the treadmill, jogging a little on an Alter-G machine.

“It’s going well, I’m definitely excited,” she said. “I like how it’s progressing.”

Meanwhile, Ducharme is taking advantage of the unique opportunity afforded to college athletes of her generation — NIL deals, which generate a source of income for collegiate athletes.

“I think now in the offseason is when I really want to focus on that kind of thing, as busy as you are during the season,” she said. “But I think it’s been cool to be able to build my platform and be able to endorse things that really mean a lot to me, and ideas that mean a lot to me — different goals that these companies have for equality and women’s sports and Title IX and all that stuff that I feel passionate about to be able to have that platform to really talk about it and reach a lot of different people. I think it’s a really cool opportunity for college athletes everywhere.”


The Huskies suffered a heavy blow last week when star guard Paige Bueckers tore her ACL in a pick-up game. Bueckers had surgery on Tuesday, but she will miss the 2022-23 season.

Ducharme, who has undergone more than her share of injuries and rehabs, said a positive mental attitude is crucial during the rehab process.

“We’re already been visiting with [Bueckers] and trying to support her, keep her spirits up,” Ducharme said. “So just focusing on getting her in a good mindset.

“Especially for someone like Paige, we live basketball. That’s what we do. That’s what we love. That’s what we know. And then when it’s taken away from you, it’s hard to kind of shift your mindset into ‘Okay, who am I now? What do I do now? How do I impact the team?’ Someone like her, she’s always vocal, and she’s a huge role on the team leadership-wise. So I think she’s going to figure out how to impact the team. We all know that she’s still going to have a huge role for us.”

Ducharme, of course, will have a big role as well. Her freshman season was a whirlwind. Now, entering her sophomore season, she carries the weight of expectations.

“No one really knows what to expect of you [as a freshman],” Ducharme said. “You’re trying to prove yourself, so there’s pressure in that. But now that they know what you can do, and they’re expecting you to do even more than that, and to get even better and keep pushing and growing.


“So I think it’s definitely a different feeling, being a sophomore, but I think it’s good pressure. And I think I’m ready for it.”


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