Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

Recognizing the bigger picture

by Mike Ramczyk

June 23, 2011

Walworth ó Sometimes, a basketball game isnít just about canning a wide-open three-pointer or weaving through the lane for a layup.

Sports can transcend simple competition, and that was epitomized Friday at the annual Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Division 3 all-star game. Some of the best basketball players in the state migrated to the University of Wisconsin-Madison field house for the annual event, which benefited the Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer (MACC) Fund. Along with solid competition, players were able to spend time with young cancer victims and survivors.

Big Foot graduate Courtney Spangler soaked it all in. The former Lady Chief standout played for the Division 3 South squad, which lost 74-61 to the North Squad. Spangler, a 2011 first-team all-Walworth County pick and all-Rock Valley South selection, scored seven points, good for third-best on the squad. She acknowledged the importance of playing against the MACC Fund and the honor of being selected as an all star.

A 5-foot-11 inside-outside offensive threat, Spangler led Big Foot with 14.5 points per game as a senior to go along with 7.9 rebounds.

The areaís second-leading scorer, Spangler hopes to one day become a nurse. In the fall, she will take her basketball talents to Madison Area Technical College. The Regional News caught up with Spangler Monday to reflect on her beginnings in basketball, her dadís strong inspiration and what it meant to play for Big Foot.

RN: What did it mean for you to be selected as a Division 3 all star?

CS: It was an honor to play for the MACC fund, I wouldnít have had that honor to play for them without the help and support from my sponsors: USG interiors, Ex-Tech Plastics, Rauland Agency, The Coachís Locker, Kunes Country Ford, Road Dawg, Walworth Landing Mobil, and Chris & Jill Stebnitz and the boys. While we were in Madison, we got the opportunity to go to the hospital and listen to a young girl talk about how she survived cancer.

I was very touched by the story because not only is she a survivor, but this happened to her while she was in high school and she was able to give a wonderful presentation in front of her peers.

RN: What will you remember most about the experience?

CS: The one thing I will remember most about this experience is playing my last high school game in the field house like my dad did when he was in high school.

RN: You scored seven points in the game. How much different was the competition from the high school season, and did you learn anything going against such solid players?

CS: The competition was much more difficult than I was used to in high school, and the pace of the game was much faster. The one thing I learned about going against solid players is that if youíre going to go to the basket, take it to them hard.

RN: What was the atmosphere like among your teammates?

CS: At first, it was awkward because we were all new to each other, but once the week went on we all meshed together. After playing against Meggie Schmidt from Edgerton, Megan Gover from Beloit Turner and Stephanie Aasen from Parkview for the past four years and being just opponents, finally becoming teammates was something I will never forget.

RN: What a year it has been for you? You landed first team on the all-Rock Valley and Walworth County teams along with the WBCA game. How important are these accolades to you?

CS: It was an honor to receive these accolades, but I couldnít have made it this far without the help from my high school coach, Joe Wehrenberg. Throughout high school, he has motivated me to be the best I could be by being a leader on and off the court. He taught me to never give up when times got hard.

RN: How old were you when you first started playing basketball? Who inspired you to stick with the sport?

CS: I started playing Lil Chiefs basketball when I was in fourth grade. The one person who has inspired me to stick with playing basketball is my dad. He is my role model, and I look up to him in everything. He is always pushing me to go the extra mile, by working with me in the gym, rebounding for me, supporting me and always being at every game. I donít know what I would do if I couldnít hear my dad in the stands helping me out. My dad coached me when I was younger, but my senior year he was the assistant coach and it was a great opportunity to play for him one last time.

RN: What motivates you on the court? Why do you love the game so much?

CS: The one thing that motivates me the most on the court is wanting to win. And even wanting to be conference champs, wanting to be regional champs, wanting to be sectional champs, and wanting to go to state. You have to want it, you have to go 110 percent every game, no matter if youíre losing or winning. I love the game because itís competitive and itís five people on the court working together. Not one or two or three or four players can just do it, all five players have to work together. And I just love the feeling of being on the court, because even if youíre not friends with your teammates, once you are in between the lines, youíre all friends.

RN: Where are you headed for school in the fall? Do you plan on playing basketball?

CS: In the fall I am going to school at Madison College (MATC), and I will be playing basketball there for two years. This summer, I am playing on Thursday nights in Verona on a summer league for MATC. I plan to major in the medical field. Most likely nursing.

RN: What do you dream of doing in 10 years?

CS: In 10 years, my dream is to be married, living on the lake, having a career in nursing and starting a family.

RN: What will you miss the most about Big Foot?

CS: I think the one thing Iíll miss most about Big Foot is playing sports and having our football team win state at Camp Randall.

RN: What advice can you give aspiring athletes?

CS: In this order ... family always comes first, then make sure you get your homework done and handed in on time, and then sports.