Waltrip is Vikings' unquestioned floor leader
Feb. 19, 2013
BELLINGHAM, Wash. -
By Alex Bigelow, WWU Sports Information Student Intern
In Sam Carver Gymnasium, the voice of Western Washington University senior point guard Corinn Waltrip penetrates the roar of the fans with definitive clarity.
It is a voice that is calm yet powerful, one that Viking players listen for intently on the basketball court.
"She is our leader out there, our director," said forward Trishi Williams. "She tells us what to do and when to do it, and what we need at the time. If she wasn't there, it would create a lot more confusion, and she eliminates that."
Waltrip, a Great Northwest Athletic Conference second-team all-star last season and a pre-season all-conference pick this year, has been a key figure in leading Western to an impressive 19-3 record and a top 10 national ranking. The Vikings lead the GNAC standings at 13-1.
As the unquestioned leader of the team, Waltrip says she wasn't comfortable at first in asserting herself, but it's a role she has grown to like.
"Coming in (as a freshman), I wasn't really comfortable talking, and I'm a pretty shy person in general," Waltrip said. "Over time, I've had to develop an assertive personality on the court, and become more directive and voice my knowledge and what I want people to do and where I want them to be in order to get the results we want."
Athletes operate in a results-based world, and Waltrip has done just fine in that regard boasting a four-year record of 89-20 as a Viking. The win total is the fourth highest of any four-year span in the school's heralded history of women's hoops.
About the only thing more impressive than the victories she's helped accrue has been her ability to stay healthy.
Waltrip has started 82 consecutive games dating back to the start of her sophomore season, and she played in all 27 games for Western as a freshman.
That knowledge gained by Waltrip in nearly 3,000 minutes of playing time is not lost on WWU head coach Carmen Dolfo.
"It's definitely huge," Dolfo said. "She understands the game, and she understands what our expectations are of her."
Dolfo recalled a Jan. 12 contest against conference rival and fellow top-10 ranked Simon Fraser in which Waltrip's experience made the difference.
With six seconds remaining and the game tied at 57-all, Dolfo opted not to take a timeout because she knew Waltrip, armed with a bevy of know how in late-game situations, would be just fine without it.
And Waltrip was, breaking the press and finding Harris for a buzzer-beating layup, helping Western to its biggest win of the season.
She scored only two points in that game, but handed out seven assists and had just one turnover. That's a facet of her game, that she has worked hard on improving.
"Early in my career, I tended to turn the ball over more than I would have liked, so it's definitely been a focus for me this year," Waltrip said. "Carmen preaches every possession matters, and turnovers kill you. They can lead to four-point swings, so we take care of the ball; it's gold,"
Waltrip boasts a career best 1.5 assists to turnover ratio this year, and is 13 assists shy of 300 for her career.
Scoring, though, is something Dolfo wishes Waltrip would focus on more, while acknowledging the difficulties of doing so when her primary goal is getting everyone involved in the offense.
"When she has so much responsibility, sometimes she forgets to look for her shot, and we need her to be a scorer, too," Dolfo said. "She is such a good scorer, and I think she's taken on so much of the leadership on this team that she has that attitude of trying to get other people (involved), and she forgets she's great at it, too."
Waltrip, who is averaging 12.0 points per game this season, needs 74 more to reach the 1,000 mark for her career.
She was definitely looking for her shot against Seattle Pacific on Feb. 16 when she scored a career-high 36 points, the fourth-highest total in school history. She was 11-of-19 from the field, including 8-of-13 from 3-point range. The eight treys tied the school record.
Waltrip has been an outstanding 3-point shooter throughout her career, but this year has taken that to a new level. She leads the Vikings with 53 threes and tops the NCAA Division II nationally, hitting 46.9 percent from beyond the arc.
With her WWU career drawing to a close, Waltrip said it's something she has tried to keep out of her mind.
"I'm trying to have fun while it lasts, and go out there and play as hard as I can and leave it all out on the court," she said.
Add that to her unbridled belief in this team's ability to make a strong push in the postseason, and Waltrip may have the storybook ending every senior dreams of.
A psychology major, Waltrip has a 3.63 (4.0 scale) grade point average. She is a three-time GNAC academic all-star.
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