MU's Yale finding a role as a walk-on
A year ago, Katie Yale was getting used to life in college.
She was thinking about trying to walk on as a basketball player, but first she needed to spend her freshman year as a student.
"I thought about it, but I thought I had to get used to being a student and being away from home first," Yale said.
This year, she decided she wanted to get back to playing basketball, so she walked onto the Mansfield basketball team.
However, a year away from the sport put Yale a little behind when she started.
"I had to get back into shape," she said. "I knew I was behind and I had to work hard."
Coming in Yale didn't expect a lot this year, but she figured even if she didn't play a lot, this would still be a good experience.
"I really didn't think I would have much playing time," she said. "But, I thought if I was on the team I would grow as a player and a person."
While she may not have expected much, very quickly Yale has worked her way into the Mansfield lineup.
She has average 14.1 minutes a game this year and 4.1 points and 2.6 rebounds, while shooting 50% from the field.
On Wednesday she had a bit of a breakout game, scoring 10 points in just 16 minutes in a loss to LeMoyne.
"I just came in with confidence," she said. "Being a walk-on on the team pushes me to try harder because I know I have to work harder to earn my spot."
One of the reasons why Yale believes she has been getting playing time is because of her work on the defensive end.
"Defense is what I focus on, I live on defense, I think that defense turns into offense," Yale said.
While she was a 1,000-point scorer in high school, Yale never has put all of her attention on the offensive end.
"I was never much of an offensive player," she said. "I always try and play hard on defense and set everyone else up."
However, in the past four games Yale has averaged more than six points a game.
Yale thinks that her work on defense, and some added confidence, helps with the scoring.
"Defense really does help on offense," she said.
One thing that Yale knows helped her get more playing time this year was a coaching change which meant that everyone was sort of starting at the same level this year.
"That definitely really does help," Yale said. "But, even if she wasn't new I think she would try and put the best basketball players on the court no matter who they were."
When the season started, there were some nerves at work as Yale adjusted to the college game.
"I definitely got nervous at first," she said. "But, once you start playing, it kind of goes away."
Now, Yale just hopes to keep getting better and helping out the team any way she can.
"I just hope to keep improving," she said. "I just want to keep getting better."
While she is getting a good amount of minutes each game and is finding some success on offense, Yale knows that it's her defense that has gotten her to this point.
"My defense is definitely what is helping me," she said. "It really helps me out a lot."
It feels good for Yale to get a chance to contribute and help the team out.
"It definitely feels like I'm more of a role player now, and not a walk-on as much," she said. "I love getting more playing time."
Still, Yale knows she can't be satisfied with what she's done and continue to work hard.
"I just have to keep giving my everything and keep working hard," Yale said.