By Tom Nader
Publisher and Editor
For many, March Madness thrusts basketball to the heights of excitement.
Imagine, though, if every month delivered that same enthusiasm. Or if you could immerse yourself in it every day.
Caitlyn Isler does not have to imagine.
She lives it.
And she almost can’t believe it.
Isler, who is a 2012 graduate of Windham High School that scored 1,056 career points, acts as the Director of Operations for the George Washington University women’s basketball team.
It is a role she has held for two years and comes after she spent three years in the same position at Stony Brook and five years as a student manager and graduate assistant with the Ohio State women’s basketball program.
If you are counting, that is 10 years of maddening basketball fun.
“I think back to when I was a little kid, and I remember thinking, ‘People get to do this as a job?’ I couldn’t believe it,” Isler said.
She care barely believe it now.
“Now, all I can think about is, ‘Wow, this is my life.’ I get to travel the world, meet incredible people and develop meaningful relationships with them all while being around the game of basketball.”
Isler serves in many ways for the Colonials’ program, with many of her responsibilities living behind the curtain.
She works alongside compliance, housing and financial aid, among others, but one of her primary tasks is travel and all of the logistics — big and small — that come with scheduling trip after trip for 30 people.
She is trusted to not only make it happen, but to find answers without being a nuisance to head coach Caroline McBombs and her staff, like when a recent routine trip to St. Bonaventure (N.Y.) became anything but.
“We took a charter bus to Reagan airport and when we got there, the doors that held the team’s luggage would not open,” Isler said. “No matter how hard we tried, they just would not open.”
So while the team went to catch their flight, Isler and a student manager stayed behind to figure out how to get the luggage to the team.
“We rented a car, somehow filled it with all of the luggage and drove five hours to St. Bonaventure,” Isler said.
Such is the life for Isler.
Thriving in situations that require answers that impact a large group of people.
It is a reason why McCombs, who has a five-year history with Isler, has kept her part of her staff. And why Isler remains with McCombs.
“She makes the job exciting,” Isler said of George Washington’s head coach. “We can probably finish too many of each other’s sentences at this point. I have learned so much from her. Just by watching her, she has taught me. The amount of work she puts in, and she works so hard every day and is so detail oriented.”
Isler easily identifies another coach that has impacted her in a profound way: Her dad.
Gregg Isler, who is a retired school administrator, was the Superintendent and girls basketball head coach during Isler’s years as a Bomber.
Special years, according to Isler.
“I feel like my love for basketball started when I was a little kid,” Isler said. “Being the daughter of a coach, I just remember being around the game with him all the time. I loved it so much, and it gave me an opportunity to see what life was like behind the scenes for a coach and everything they have to do that has nothing to do with coaching. I may have seen it then, but I know now how stressful some of that can be.”
Isler’s passion for the Duke Blue Devils also had a part in her love for basketball.
“I grew up a huge Duke fan, and I still have a picture that I have hung up of my sister (Jessica) and I sitting on Coach K Court when we were probably 7 or 8 years old. It has Coach K’s autograph on it, and he also wrote ‘Work hard and always try your best!’ Then, when Jessica and I were both on the women’s basketball staff at Ohio State, we played at Duke and we got a picture of us together, which really brought everything full circle.”
A circle that includes basketball all the time.
Some people have to imagine.
Isler gets to live it.
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