I lost a lot of games at Valpo and it was frustrating. Coming off a high school career of winning four straight sectional basketball titles and four volleyball ones, I had to become used to winning. I knew when committing to Valpo it would be a growing process. I was told that I could be a part of turning a program around, and I liked the idea of that.
I knew committing to a school with a D1 program over some smaller schools wouldn’t get me as much playing time or get me to score as many points. But, that did not matter to me. I loved the school and team and knew that would weigh out any frustration with playing time.
When I was a junior in high school I told my parents that it would be rewarding to be part of a team to help turn the program around. As long as the team was winning that is all I cared about. This did not happen right away.
When I first started practice my freshman year I often second guessed if I could be playing at this level. My parents always told me that I was hard working and I could do whatever I set my mind to. But the first few practices were hard. The season was even harder. It was very long too. I had played three sports in high school, and had never spent that much time focusing only on basketball.
Most of the time, I felt like the team and coaches had no trust in me at all. I couldn’t do anything right. I played scared and I played to not get yelled at. Oftentimes I would get so nervous to be subbed into the game because I was worried about disappointing people. At one point we lost every single Horizon League game in the first half of the season.
During this part of the season most of my class suffered from injuries off and on, and sometimes I was the only freshman practicing. I dreaded those practices. I hate admitting this, but at times I wished I could be on the sidelines with them so I would not be getting yelled at for messing up and having to run until I could hardly stand. Thankfully, I’vealways been good at taking criticism and don’t let it shut me down. I knew it was because the coaches believed in me, and it made me want to play harder.
That year, I think I probably played about 15 minutes a game and averaged around 5 points. I thought that was amazing. If you had asked me after the first few weeks of practice, I would’ve guessed I wouldn’t play in a game at all that year.
Every year after that as my confidence grew, my numbers did too. And every year I have embraced whatever role I have been given. But if I could have traded all my minutes and points my freshman year to have a winning season, I would have in a heartbeat. The winning did not start happening until my senior year.
As proud as I am about my individual accomplishments and growth this season, I am the most excited about our improvement as a team. Nothing can compete with the feeling of winning games. The whole team is like that. We had a group of girls who did not care who got the credit and understood their role.
The energy about this year was just different. It is hard to explain. All of the coaches and players get along well and are all bought in on Coach Evan’s new system. Every time we stepped on the floor, we expected to win. The younger girls on the team will never understand any other feeling, and I’m glad they won’t have to.
I’m grateful for every teammate and coach I’ve had during my time at Valpo, who contributed to laying this new foundation. I know I gave college basketball everything I have, and can’t wait to watch the program continue to grow.