Family, friends, leadership and competition–these are the things Oakland University women’s basketball forward Bethany Watterworth believes these are her keys to success on and off the court.
These elements will also be keys to the success for the Golden Grizzlies’ 2012-13 season as they look to bounce back in what is considered a down year for the program.
“I think there’s going to be a lot of opportunity for improvement with a good chance to win the Summit League with the team we have,” Watterworth said.
A family affair
Watterworth said the team is closer than ever this year, with a strong family vibe amongst a team of friends.
“Recently we did some pumpkin carving at a teammate’s house and had our own pumpkins to take home,” Watterworth said. “Things like this go into us staying close as a team and help with chemistry.”
Watterworth takes that family vibe and injects it into the campus of Oakland. She serves as President of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, an opportunity passed along to her by women’s basketball head coach, Beckie Francis, who started the group five years ago.
“It gives us a chance to get to know other athletes outside of our own,” Watterworth said. “We also get into Bible study, which really helps because I’m big on religion.”
Family is what brought Watterworth to Oakland. Being the fifth of seven children, she said she needed her family to make the transition from high school to college.
“I really enjoyed the family vibe here with Coach Francis, making it real easy for me to stay close to home,” Watterworth said. “With my family and fans being able to always come see me play all the time, the decision was really easy to come to OU.”
Life is a competition
As a pre-physical therapy major, academics plays a key role in Watterworth’s focus, thinking of school as a competition with other students.
“Academics are a huge deal to me, because I feel like you have to push yourself and compete in everything you do, including school,” Watterworth said. “With the team GPA requirement being a 3.4, it keeps me going to strive to exceed expectations with me having a 3.7.”
Bethany’s father Brad played football at Georgia Tech and participated in the famed 1975 Georgia Tech-Notre Dame football game immortalized in the movie “Rudy.” Her father is the driving force behind Watterworth’s exceeding expectations in the classroom and on the court.
“He is definitely my biggest fan, always being there to support me and to push me to maximize my potential with his love for sports,” Watterworth said.
Watterworth’s challenges ahead
With her loss at start the season for an unspecified amount of time, the team will be faced with challenges. The focus will fall on her fellow teammates on a new team that includes four incoming freshmen.
“It will definitely be different because Bethany can carry a team,” Francis said. “We will continue to focus on offense and defense as everyone has the chance to step up with our veterans who so far are looking tough along with the talent we have in our freshmen.”
Francis’ confidence in Watterworth is proof that the senior’s leadership has become valuable to the Golden Grizzlies squad. Even with the injury, Watterworth is leading the team.
“In her time here, she has developed into more of a vocal leader as well as an academic role model for her teammates and her hard work in the classroom as well as with the FCA display that,” Francis said.
Among their challenges will be a tough non-conference schedule that features Michigan State and Purdue visiting the O’rena in December along with a trip to perennial championship contender Connecticut.
“I get up for games like this, just with the level of competition being so different we learn so much as a team,” Watterworth said. “If we can just compete against teams like that and produce good results, then it gives us a sense of confidence against the competition in the Summit League.”