Athlete of the Week: Northampton’s Anna Walther
“We’re just trying to get to Western Mass and we’re gonna keep going, we’re gonna see how far we can take this,” Walther said, “After losing the Western Mass championship last year, we’re like ‘we’re gonna do it.’”
It’s an image of defeat that still resonates with the Blue Devils, watching Chicopee grab the state title right from their grasp. The thought is motivation for Walther when she takes the floor and looks to make a statement.
“We’re trying to win so whether it takes scoring a basket here and there, I’m gonna do it,” Walther said, “As point guard, you’re supposed to facilitate and look for your players. They’re helping, me score and I’m helping them score. We’re just trying to get the win.”
“I think the thing with her is she’s willing to put the time and effort in to becoming a good player by putting the time and work in practice. It shows,” head coach Perry Messer said, “She doesn’t take shortcuts. She tries to lead by example and I think the other kids appreciate that.”
Add coach Messer to the list of individuals entering this season with a championship or bust mentality. Messer knows it begins with Walther and the rest of an experienced roster featuring more than one senior for the first time in four years.
“We came up short last year, that wasn’t good enough. I don’t think anyone walked out of that gym with a good feeling that night. I think they’re working hard enough to make sure that doesn’t happen,” Messer said, “As long as we put the time and effort in, we’ll be satisfied with the results.”
While expectations are high for a Northampton team picked by many to be Western Mass’ elite, Walther knows it isn’t an individual effort to reclaim that higher ground.
“We certainly embrace it. We’re always willing to be up against competition to take it one step at a time and one game at a time,” Walther said, “We’re willing to get to the state championship, we want to win Western Mass and we want to keep going. Playing tough teams, playing high-caliber teams each time is what we want to do.”
We know the talent and the experience are evident. If they stay prominent at season’s end, the conversation of defeating adversity may become just an afterthought.