Courtney Ekmark: An Honor Student Highly Valued By UConn

by Categorized: Courtney Ekmark, UConn women's basketball Date:

While UConn was rolling to its eighth national championship in April, Courtney Ekmark had a prime seat in the New Orleans Arena. There were two reasons for her being there, both equally valid:

 Her father, Curtis, the coach of her premier high school program, St. Mary’s of Phoenix, Ariz., was the head coach of the one of the WBCA all-star teams that played there earlier in the weekend.

  Just as cool was she was there to see a former teammate, Courtney Walton, play for Louisville, and her future teammates play for UConn.

 “It was very exciting for me to be there,” Courtney Ekmark said. “I felt a connection to both teams … It was awesome. It helped me be able to visualize what it might be like a couple of years when it is me out on the floor.

“And the experience reaffirmed some things for me. I obviously always knew that UConn had a tremendous fan following. And it gave me another sense of exactly how they [UConn] play. It was very interesting for me to see that in person; how fast the game is played, how physical UConn was.”

   Ekmark, a 6-0 guard and a 4.0 student, returns to St. Mary’s this season. But she will be without seven former teammates who have gone on to Division I basketball in places like Louisville, UCLA, Michigan, San Diego State and New Mexico. She expects her last year to be another great year following another state championship and national rank of No. 6 by Max Prep in 2012-13.

  To prepare, Ekmark has been focusing tightly on improving her skills and conditioning.

  “I have been playing basketball with a lot of guys lately to help me get used to playing faster,” she said. “And I’ve been going to a personal trainer to help me get my body right. I just want to be ready when my time comes.

 “I would consider myself a playmaker. I like to think that I have a very good understanding of the game.”

   After playing in the past for her father’s AAU team, the Arizona Warriors, Ekmark is playing for Cal Swish, the top-flight west coach club team coached by Russ Davis. The program has spawned many Division I players, like Stanford’s Bonnie Samuelson and Jeanette Pohlen and former UConn guard Lauren Engeln, now at Boston College.

  In April, while playing in a Los Angeles tournament won by her team, Ekmark had a chance to meet her future UConn teammate, Gabby Williams, not playing this summer due to her knee injury suffered in January.

 “I got to meet Gabby after one of my games out there. It was brief but very nice to get to know her,” Ekmark said.

   Like Williams and Edwards, Ekmark says one of the toughest things about next season will be trying to contain the excitement about what’s to come.

   Ekmark was the first of the three to commit, giving UConn the good news in late May 2012 after her sophomore season.

  “Yeah, I would think some high school players get sort of stressed out about the recruiting process. I was blessed to have many great offers, but once I was recruited by UConn, I knew that was the place I wanted to go,” she said. “I never really had a list, but I was looking at Stanford, Duke, Vanderbilt, Arizona State and North Carolina. Still, I knew UConn was the place.

  “What excites me the most is thinking about the future and dreaming about the possibility of winning national championships. I am looking forward all the great times and memories that are in front of me and all of the life lessons that I am going to learn. I am totally ecstatic about it all. And the distance wasn’t a factor. I am going to miss my family; we are tremendously close-knit.

  “But I will be so busy trying to win national championships at UConn.”

 

 

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