Emily Strachan still can’t believe the next part of her basketball journey is beginning.

The Lewiston native left home Friday to begin her NCAA Division I career at Cal-State Fullerton of the Big West Conference on a full scholarship after a standout two-year career at Central Maine Community College.

“I am really excited. Yeah, it’s surreal — it doesn’t feel like it’s happening,” said Strachan, who will be a junior this upcoming season. “It’s exciting.”

She committed to the Titans earlier this spring, becoming the first women’s basketball player from a community college from either Maine or New Hampshire to commit to a Division I program, according to CMCC coach Andrew Morong.

Lewiston native Emily Strachan has finished playing for the Central Maine Community College Mustangs and will head to California to play for the Division I Cal-State Fullerton Titans. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Morong’s recruiting pitch to Strachan in high school was very simple.

“Honestly, from day one, seeing her play as a freshman, it was very easy to tell she was going to be a very special basketball player if she put in the work,” Morong said. “We followed her career very closely, and our whole pitch to her in the recruiting process was to do exactly what happened: Come here to CM, win a national championship, win a couple of conference championships, and punch your ticket to the next level. We will help you at every step of the way to get there, whether it’s Division I or Division II. Ideally, the goal was Division I. Everything that has happened is what we envisioned happening from the jump.”


Strachan helped lead the Mustangs to a United States Collegiate Athletic Association Division II national championship in 2022 and Yankee Small Conference Championships in 2022 and 2023. She was also a first-team USCAA All-American and YSCC All-Conference team selection in 2022 and 2023, while being named to the YSCC All-Tournament team in 2022. She also got recognized by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association as an All-American in 2023.

CMCC’s Emily Strachan dribbles the ball up the court during the first half of a Dec. 2, 2022, women’s basketball game in Auburn against Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Playing at the Division I level has always been the goal for Strachan.

“I definitely knew I wanted to play D1, and I wanted to get out of Maine because I grew up here,” Strachan said. “I am more of the city girl type of girl, and I definitely wanted to get out of Maine.”

Lewiston girls basketball coach Craig Jipson, who coached Strachan her senior season in 2020-21, said he couldn’t be prouder of Strachan.

“She’s a really talented basketball player; she’s 100 times even a better person,” Jipson said. “She’s a wonderful young woman.”



Strachan didn’t start playing competitive basketball until middle school. She was a cheerleader before picking up a basketball.

Whenever she could, Strachan worked on her game to get where she’s at today.

“When I quit cheering, I just had enough of cheering, and I wanted to move on,” Strachan said. “I played some other sports, like softball and soccer, but I never really stuck with any of them. I never tried basketball — I did when I was really little, but I don’t remember it. I knew my mom played here (at CMCC), and I tried it out. Since then, it’s been my love; that’s all I wanted to do, is play basketball. Once I hit high school, I started to put in a lot of work.”

Strachan said she couldn’t have gotten to this point without Jamyah and Myah Nicolas, who were teammates with Strachan at Lewiston and CMCC. Strachan said the three pushed each other in high school and college.

Jipson saw first-hand not only that Strachan wanted to get better, but see her teammates succeed as well.

“She was the ultimate teammate,” Jipson said. “All she cared about was making her teammates better.”


Jipson added that Strachan is one of the best leaders he’s been around.

Strachan said going to the gym to work on her basketball skills brings her peace.

“It cancels out everything,” Strachan said. “If I am having a stressful week or anything, I get into the gym, whether it’s shooting, dribbling, lifting, it kind of cancels out everything, and it makes me happy.”

Lewiston’s Emily Strachan, center, dribbles up the court as Edward Little’s Saphryn Humason, left, and Jenny Chaput try to steal the ball during a March 12, 2021, game on Fern Masse Court at Lewiston High School. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Strachan’s hard work set the tone at CMCC.

“It’s been a pleasure,” Morong said of coaching Strachan. “It’s been challenging at times — not in a bad challenge — but Emily is dedicated to her craft and always dedicated to our program and had high expectations, not only for herself but everyone else around her. Whenever your best player is your hardest worker, it really just sets the tone for everyone else in the program.”

During her two years at CMCC, Strachan averaged 12.7 points per game in her freshman season and 13.8 as a sophomore.



Morong and Jipson each remember Strachan having a game where she took control and made her presence felt.

For Morong, it was a regular-season game against Southern Maine Community College in Strachan’s first year.

“Emily just took over the game,” Morong said. “She finished with 30-something points, seven rebounds, five steals and five assists. Something ridiculous like that, and I remember just thinking to myself on the way home, ‘OK, we have our first Division I player, no doubt about it.’ Emily has this unique ability to score at three levels, and a lot of players nowadays can only score from one level, maybe two. Those two levels are at the hoop or behind the 3-point line. Emily has a very old-school feel to her game, where she can score at the mid-range. Her 12- to 17-foot jump shot and the ability to create is so unique in today’s game. It happens to line up with the style of play Cal-State Fullerton uses.”

Strachan finished with 32 points, 8 rebounds and three assists against the Seawolves.

Strachan remembers that SMCC game specifically.


“That was a great game, and it was awesome because a couple of hours before the game — the men’s and women’s teams went together — a couple of hours before the game, we were looking online, and SM was talking about us already,” Strachan said. “I just felt it before the game, I was excited, and the crowd was loud, and I just wanted to dominate, and I did. I just wanted to rise above all the haters.”

Jipson remembers a game against Brunswick in the shortened season in 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“She just dominated by scoring,” Jipson said. “She scored from everywhere, but she was a great passer, and she’s an outstanding athlete, and I always preached defense. Emily bought in on the defensive end. Everyone knew she could shoot and score, but she played hard defensively.”


Morong said NCAA and NAIA schools noticed Strachan after the Mustangs won the 2022 national championship.

“The scholarship schools saw not only she’s a talented player, but a talented student with a 3.5 GPA, but they saw how dedicated she was in the weight room and how dedicated she is with her craft outside practices and games,” Morong said. “The icing on the cake for coaches is Emily is a winner now. She wasn’t necessarily one at Lewiston, they struggled to win some games, but coming here, she won a ridiculous amount. I think (55) and 6, or something like that over her two years. She won two conference regular-season and tournament championships, and national championships. It has to be appealing to a lot of people, especially at the scholarship level, where it’s their business to win. You need winners to be able to win.”


Jipson said many colleges missed out on Strachan coming out of high school.

“I thought some Division I schools should have recruited her out of high school,” Jipson said. “To be fair to those schools, she was hurt for a big part of her high school career. She wasn’t really healthy. If she was healthy her whole (high school) career, I am not sure if she would end up at some Ivy League school. I think they missed the boat on her. She’s such a great student. Even going to Cal-State Fullerton, she could be the President someday. She has that kind of personality.”

Morong said he and Strachan started to reach out to schools late in her freshman season, and NAIA and NCAA Division I and II schools reached out during this past season.

Morong and Strachan looked at schools in the Southeast at first. Schools were hesitant at first about giving her a scholarship offer.

“We needed that first offer in place,” Morong said. “For some reason, a lot of schools don’t dare to be that first offer; they wait for others to offer. I think the evolution of the transfer portal at the NCAA probably hindered Emily more than anything else. I think if the transfer portal wasn’t a thing, or at least the way it is right now, she would have had a dozen or more Division I offers.”

Morong said moving players on to the next level is one of the parts of the job he likes the most. Morong has experience moving a dozen players to the NCAA Division II or NAIA levels.


Landing on Cal-State Fullerton came in late in the process.

“Pretty late, and honestly, that’s my fault,” Morong said. “I know the head coach (Jeff Harada). I have known him for six or seven years now, when he was an assistant at the US Naval Academy. Originally, Emily wanted to stay on the East Coast when she was thinking about Florida or the Carolina region, and that’s where we were focused, on the Eastern seaboard. I didn’t even think of coach Harada out West. It was a rainy day — one of many rainy days we had this spring — I was just sitting on my couch and said, ‘Wait, how come I haven’t talked to coach Harada yet?’ I texted him, and he called me, and I sent him everything he needed, as far as transcripts and film. Him and I had a long conversation about Emily.”

Strachan said Harada liked her mid-range game.

“He said it will really help the team,” Strachan said. “There’s a lot of screens and switching, which will be perfect for that. He sees me being a really good player there. I just need to keep performing and keep doing what I have been doing, and I should be good.”

Morong said moving Strachan to Division I is big for CMCC.

“This is a massive win for the entire institution; there’s no way around that,” Morong said. “It’s a very special moment for us all, and what I think is really awesome about it is Emily is a local kid. Born and raised in Lewiston, played at Lewiston High School, and for her to come here and represent the Lewiston-Auburn community at CM. Now taking us to the West Coast is something really special. I don’t think people have grasped how special this moment is for our community.”

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