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Wheaton-Warrenville South's Meghan Waldron (45) advances during the first quarter at Hoffman Estates High School in Hoffman Estates, Ill., on Monday, February 20, 2012. | Andrew A. Nelles~For Sun-Times Media |
A lot of athletes will tell you that they can hear a parent’s voice bellowing from the stands. Sometimes, it’s a source of embarrassment.
But when Meghan Waldron’s mom shouts something from the bleachers, it’s not always a bad thing.
“She knows what she’s talking about,” Waldron said. “Sometimes it’s a blessing.”
“Mom” is former DePaul player Jean Fitzpatrick, who has missed only one of her daughter’s high school basketball games since Waldron began playing on the varsity midway through her freshman year. Mom missed the game to attend her Hall of Fame induction at Willowbrook High School.
Waldron is a likely Hall of Fame candidate at Wheaton Warrenville South after her playing career is over. The 5-foot-10 guard/forward leads the Tigers in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals for the second year in a row, and is still only a junior.
“Good things happen when the ball is in her hands,” WW South coach Rob Kroehnke said. “When she has her hands on the ball, she can dictate what happens on the floor. She makes it a lot easier for everybody else.”
But the number of teammates who fall into that “everybody else” category is slowly dwindling. WW South recently lost junior forward Maggie Dansdill, Waldron’s best friend since first grade, to an ACL injury. Reserve forward Kelly Langlas has also been sidelined by a sprained MCL.
“With the injuries we have had, we’re asking our best player to get even better,” Kroehnke said. “She’s an incredible ballhandler. She sees the floor so well. She’s a great leader. Now we’ll find out if she can take it to the next step.”
Waldron first picked up a basketball at age 5. Because of her mother’s connections to DePaul, she attended Doug Bruno camps at Benedictine University. Basketball on the driveway with brothers Michael, who played volleyball at WW South, and Matthew became commonplace.
“I never let them beat me,” she said.
Waldron also played club soccer while growing up, but a stress fracture in the back that sidelined her for the first half of her freshman basketball season convinced her to give up the sport.
“Basketball and soccer cause a lot of injuries,” she said. “I chose to keep playing basketball. I made the right choice.”
Last year as a sophomore, Waldron averaged nearly 15 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three steals a game to lead the Tigers to a 28-4 record, a second straight DuPage Valley Conference championship and WW South’s first sectional final appearance since 1997.
A second consecutive sectional final appearance is not out of the realm of possibility, although the Tigers cannot absorb too many more injuries like the loss of Dansdill.
“It’s crazy,” Waldron said. “It’s scary to see your best friend, somebody who is like your other half, in so much pain. I know she has a rough several months of rehabilitation ahead, but she’s such a positive person. It stinks. We wanted to do such big things this year.”
WW South is still capable of achieving great things. The Tigers will just need more contributions from players like Sierra Bisso, Olivia Linebarger, Melanie Franke, Diamond Thompson and sisters Erin and Ally Zappia, and a lot of everything from Waldron.
“Everybody has to pick up their game and work hard,” Waldron said. “There’s always room for a little more hard work. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. Words like those keep me going.”
Along with some encouragement from the bleachers.