STAUNTON – Emma Witt knows the first thing she wants to get this summer as she prepares to head off to college – a cat.
The Staunton High School senior received a scholarship to play basketball at West Virginia Wesleyan, an NCAA Division II school in Buckhannon. The school allows students to bring pets and Witt plans to do so.
She wants it to be orange because the school mascot is a bobcat. In fact, she joked that she wanted a bobcat, but assumed the school would draw the line for her by bringing a wild animal to her dorm. So, an ordinary domestic cat will do.
Playing college basketball, especially at a school that offered her a scholarship, has been a dream for Witt since she started playing. She wasn’t sure it would happen, at least not the way she had planned. Witt was ready to commit to Bridgewater College. Although the Division III school does not offer athletic scholarships, Witt had been offered an academic scholarship at the school.
However, she waited to commit. It was a feeling she had.
“I felt like God was telling me to just wait, be patient and wait, it will come,” she said.
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It made. At the end of April, a member of the West Virginia Wesleyan coaching staff offered him to play basketball. Witt wasn’t sure until she made the three-hour trip to visit the school.
“I was like, I feel at home with this,” she said.
It helped that on the trip to West Virginia she passed through Blue Grass in Highland County. His late grandmother was from the small community just north of Monterey and passing by, Witt just felt like it was meant to be.
The school offered a major in criminal justice, which Witt wants to study, so this seemed like the perfect fit.
She officially signed with the school Thursday afternoon in a ceremony at Staunton High School. She joined three other Staunton athletes who were committing to college.
Witt was the Shenandoah District Player of the Year in his senior season. scoring nearly 31 points per game and averaging 13 rebounds. She finished her career with 1,632 points.
Witt, who will be part of a class of five freshmen at the West Virginia school, is excited to be part of a team where she will have to prove herself everywhere. She was the top freshman scorer on her high school team and has lived with the expectation of being the team’s best player ever since. That will change this fall.
“The reason I wanted to get away (from Staunton) is because I can go somewhere where nobody knows anything about me and the only thing they know about me is what I tell them,” said she declared. “It’s what I expected. And I’m so ready for it.”
Other Staunton athletes committing on Thursday:
Hollins University Track
Pederson will run hurdles, as well as possibly 100m and 200m sprints.
“It was a really good environment,” she said of Hollins. “I felt like home instantly. All the teachers and coaches were the sweetest people and I just felt like it was the right place to be.”
Lehigh Carbon Community College, Baseball
Engleman said the opportunity to step in and play appealed to him. With only freshmen and sophomores on the team, he’ll be lucky enough to be on the field often. He said he hopes to play catcher, but will play whatever position the team needs him.
“I loved the coaches, we really connected,” he said. “The campus is great. I was really impressed.”
Mary Baldwin University, Baseball
Hicks liked the idea of staying in Staunton to play baseball. Playing for MBU means he will be able to play at the same ground, Moxie Stadium, where he played in high school.
“It’s near my home and it gives me the opportunity to play,” he said. “I will stay with my family.”
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Patrick Hite is the education reporter for The News Leader. Story ideas and tips are always welcome. Contact Patrick (he/him/her) at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @Patrick_Hite. Ssubscribe to newsleader.com.