By Dan Truttschel~Sports Correspondent
Prior to taking over the varsity girls basketball program at Wilmot High School, Keiya Square roamed the sidelines at Southern Lakes Conference rival Delavan-Darien.
But even back then, one Wilmot player definitely caught his attention – and now four years later, her college plans have been finalized.
And it’s no surprise to Square how good she has become.
Senior three-sport standout Sarah Vozel officially put her collegiate plans into ink last week when she signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Ashford University (Clinton, Iowa).
Ashford, a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, is coached by Amy Eagan and her assistants, Adam Tandez and Bobbi Endrees. All three were at Wilmot last week to welcome Vozel to the program.
“I knew she was going to be a good player (when she was a freshman), but I never knew she was going to turn out to be the player she is today,” Square said.
“From the first day I got here, she has worked extremely hard to make herself a better player. She is always working on her game, whether it be post moves, ball handling or shooting.”
Square said Vozel has grown two inches since she began high school, and now plays all five positions on the floor for the Panthers.
And any time a player receives a scholarship, it of course pleased their head coach – and Square certainly isn’t any different.
“I am really proud of Sarah as a player and person,” he said. “Everything she is getting she has worked extremely hard for, and it’s always nice to see players like her get rewarded for that work.”
Vozel said she’s pleased to have the decision behind her in time for the start of her senior year.
“I’m very excited to have my decision made,” she said. “It has relieved a lot of stress, and I think it will allow me to be more focused on my senor season.”
Vozel said she felt a connection with Eagan, who currently is in her third year with the program, and the staff as she went through the decision making process.
And that’s what set Ashford apart from the other schools that contacted her.
“The difference between Ashford and any other school was the team and coaching staff and how welcoming they all were,” she said.
Vozel said she was recruited as a guard at Ashford, but expects to have a versatile role with her new team when she arrives on campus. She added the coaches have told her they hope she can bring a strong defensive presence to the floor.
One year left
But before Vozel packs her bags and heads to Iowa, there’s still plenty of work to do – and memories to make – at Wilmot.
And she can’t wait for the season to get started, which officially happens next Monday, Nov. 12.
“This year, I’m looking forward mostly to grow as a team,” she said. “I’m also looking forward to playing Badger. A personal goal of mine is to reach 1,000 (career) points.”
From Square’s perspective, Vozel must lead what he calls the most talented girls’ team he’s had since he took over.
It will be up to her to continue on the same path that brought her a college scholarship, Square said.
“I think Sarah, if she wanted, could be a 20-point, 10-15-rebound a game player, but stats aren’t always what she is worried about, and we don’t need her to be that player,” he said.
“She needs to be consistent, and when we need a basket, or we need a defensive stop, she needs to be there to put us in the best situation to succeed. … A lot of responsibility will be put on Sarah’s shoulders to make sure that as a team we live up to any expectations there are.”