Stopping at McDonald’s before any athletic event for a meal may sound like a dreadful idea, but to Erinne Cunningham, it has become a tradition prior to every one of her basketball games. For Saturday games, the meal usually comes off the breakfast menu, and for mid-week evening games a snack-wrap will suffice before tip-off.
Erinne Cunningham transferred to Slippery Rock University from Monroe Community College in Rochester, N.Y. Originally from Jamestown, N.Y., Cunningham was recruited to join the Slippery Rock women’s basketball team at the guard position by head coach Tanya Longo and her staff, prior to starting her junior year of college.
As a public relations major here at Slippery Rock, Cunningham has been a pillar in the basketball program under Coach Longo for the span of her two years here at the Rock.
“I was part of turning around the program at Jamestown High School,” Cunningham said about her pre-college basketball endeavors. “We were struggling as a team and within a year we had turned around the program to one of the best in the state.”
During her high-school career at Jamestown Senior High, Cunningham was part of a team that took first place in their league for each of her seasons of participation (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009).
Prior to Cunningham’s selection of attending the Rock, she was recruited by several different colleges on the east coast including: University of Buffalo, St. Francis-New York, Edinboro University, Daemon University, and St. John Fisher College.
Buffalo and St. Francis are both Division I universities.
“I don’t regret going to junior college, but I do wish I was here longer than two years. That’s for sure,” Cunningham said in regards to the two years she spent in western Pennsylvania.
As an athlete all her life, Cunningham has tried her hand in several sports including basketball, soccer, softball, and dancing.
She chose to stick with basketball nearly 14 years ago while playing in second grade.
“When I was younger I remember playing against the boys and showing them up on the court,” Cunningham said about her fondest basketball memory from her childhood. “Dribbling past them, shooting over them, and playing defense on them. It was just awesome to show the boys up in general.”
Being a basketball player in the women’s division of the sport has become far more exciting, as well as nationally recognized in the recent future with powerhouses such as Tennessee, Baylor, Notre Dame and Connecticut.
Cunningham expressed her admiration for Geno Auriemma’s program at the University of Connecticut and her idolization of recent U-Conn graduate and now WNBA star for the Minnesota Lynx, Maya Moore.
With career-highs of 24 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, and three steals, Cunningham has been vital to the development of the Slippery Rock basketball program.
“I value hustling and giving my best effort out on the court as opposed to putting the most points on the board,” Cunningham said about her philosophy on the game. “Hard work beats talent.”
Longo is in her fourth season with the Rock and her third as head coach of the Green and White.
Cunningham has been part of the Rock’s roster for half of Longo’s career and there is a mutual admiration between the two.
“Erinne is a young lady that loves Slippery Rock University and her teammates that she has worked with in her two years here,” Longo said about Cunningham. “She always poured her energy into the game at had, from tip to final buzzer. Many players don’t want to or don’t know how to play that hard for the entire game, but Erinne always brought that to the table.”
As a player who identifies her goals on a game to game basis, Cunningham is not one to dwell on her performance whether positive or negative for long at all.
Once the game is over it is over and it is time to look forward to the next game.
“I want my teammates to remember me by my heart and the effort I put in to every game. Any advice I would give is to play with your heart,” Cunningham said about the mark she has left at Slippery Rock. “The ball may not always go in the bucket, but you can always control your effort.”
Out of the 25 games that the Rock competed in this season, Cunningham started every game. In 14 of those 25 games, she scored in double figures, four times breaking the 20-point threshold. She led the team this season with a total of 285 points scored.
“I like being part of something (SRU basketball) here at the Rock that gives me a sense of belonging,” Cunningham said in regards to what she will miss the most. “I am going to miss the communication department, my teammates, and my coaches as well.”