dribbling during a basketball game

PROFILE: Mary Clougherty ’21, Lehigh women's basketball

The Northern Virginia native is a senior guard on the women's basketball team.

Story by

Stephen Gross

Photography by

Hannahally Photography


Mary Clougherty finished 10th all-time in school history in 3-pointers made and helped the Lehigh women make their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2010 in her pandemic-shortened senior season. But she’s making sure her impact isn’t felt solely on the court. The 6-foot guard is co-captain of TIDE (Tackling Inclusion, Diversity and Equity) and has worked within the athletic department to make sure Lehigh’s athletes not only register to vote, but also are informed voters.

Major: Accounting and Business Information Systems

What’s your dream job?

To be the CFO of Tesla.

Is it safe to say the Model S is your dream car then?

100%. I have looked into financing options to buy one for myself, but it may be a few years.

What got you started in basketball?

I started playing basketball because my Papa [grandfather] used to play college basketball at Duquesne University. Ever since I was little, he used to talk about sports with me—specifically basketball. I always admired him and since I really enjoyed playing, I stuck with it.

What other sports have you played?

I swam and played soccer competitively through middle school. Sports has always been a driver in my life and I wanted to continue playing as many as I could until I had to pick one.

You wear No. 44. Any reason?

No. 44 is the number my sisters wore. We all played soccer and basketball and the three of us always wore 4 on the field and 44 on the court. It has always been our favorite number.

What’s your proudest athletic achievement?

I am most proud of having the opportunity to play college basketball. It isn’t just one moment in my game, but a compilation of the work I’ve put in and the goal I set for myself at a young age.

Do you have a nickname?

Mary Clougherthrees.

Was that given to you at Lehigh, or prior to college?

At Lehigh. A local fan actually started calling me this and our media team picked it up.

From the delays, to preparation, to a modified schedule with no fans due to COVID, how has this season been?

The season is very different for everyone. I think that we have learned a lot about what is important to us and how we want to continue to compete, even with the ups and downs. I am really proud of how everyone on the team has continued to be there for each other and compete every time we have the opportunity to play.

Can you at least temporarily forget about everything during games or do the cardboard cutouts in the stands still serve as a reminder?

Once I step on the court, I tend to forget everything else that is going on. Even before COVID, I didn’t typically hear the fans or taunts of opposing teams/coaches. In a way, playing basketball is the most normal part of my life. The games feel the same to me mentally.

I noticed on social media it appears there’s a new member on the team. Who is Frida and how did that come about?

Frida is my dog. I got her for myself over winter break as an Emotional Support Animal. When we were unable to go home for Christmas, I took my family dog for the holidays for some company. As soon as my family dog went home, we all felt like something was missing here at school. So, a few days later, I got Frida. Since we are very restricted in our ability to see anyone but our teammates—including family and school friends—she has been a really big support for the team. She comes to practices and loves being around the team. She is a very small dog so she travels easily and loves to be in people's laps or arms.

You’re co-captain of TIDE (Tackling Inclusion, Diversity and Equity), how did you get involved in that and take on a leadership position?

I started working with TIDE my first year because my teammate, Quinci Mann, was the co-captain of the group. I have always had a drive for community and social justice work and I felt this group was where I could make an impact in the department and school. I have personally learned so much about myself and others working with this group, even in the role of co-captain. I strived to be a leader in this group because I think it is really important to teach others how to respect each other's views and opinions, even if we don’t agree with them.

You’re a key figure in the athletic department in voting and racial justice efforts. What have you been doing?

Through TIDE, I’ve been working to educate teams, coaches and the department about the importance of diversity and inclusion. The tragic events [George Floyd’s death] of last summer really shined a light on the inequities in this country that many of us did not acknowledge. Racial justice is a conversation that should be happening everywhere—within every home, team, department and school. I have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work with other athletes and staff to have these conversations in our athletic department. It’s important to work on understanding and have conversations continuously.

In terms of voting, I primarily worked on educating athletes about the voting process—sharing nonpartisan information about different candidates and [explaining the] voter registration process, and how to actually vote, to athletes was an important initiative of TIDE this past year.

Your favorite athlete outside of basketball is Sidney Crosby. He’s known for his work ethic and preparation. Does that factor into your choice at all or are you just an all-around Pittsburgh sports fan?

I really admire Sidney Crosby because of his ability to lead others through example. I am an all-around Pittsburgh fan though.

How did you become a Pittsburgh/Crosby fan if you’re from just outside the Washington, D.C. area? That’s Alexander Ovechkin territory.

Very controversial indeed. My dad grew up in Pittsburgh and his family still lives there. I have lived in Northern Virginia my whole life so D.C. sports are always second on my list of teams to root for. But, I have always been a Steelers, Penguins and Pirates fan.

What’s the best thing about the Lehigh women’s basketball program?

The best thing about our program is our team. I have been able to form really good friendships with teammates over my four years in the program, and I am excited to continue these relationships after college. Friendships are the memories that will last a lifetime.

What’s the best thing about Lehigh as a university?

Lehigh provides students with so many opportunities to explore their interests. I have been so fortunate to form good relationships with professors and classmates that will continue to be in my network for years to come. This university cares about the success of its students in a multifaceted way.

Story by

Stephen Gross

Photography by

Hannahally Photography


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