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Each week, BRSN sits down for a Q & A session with the Athlete of the Week. This week, we caught up with freshman Cornell women’s basketball guard, Samantha Widmann, following her first career double-double with career highs of 15 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Big Red to a 57-52 victory over Harvard on Saturday.
BRSN: Samantha, thanks for taking the time to speak with us. You finished with career highs of 15 points and 12 rebounds — your first double-double — in Cornell’s victory over Harvard this weekend. Can you walk us through your mindset before, during, and after competition?
SW: Before the game, we had prepared for Harvard, and we were ready to face them again after the tough loss to them back in the beginning of the season. We dialed in to what was coming that night and knew we would have to fight for this win. We practiced hard the entire week leading up to the game and knew that what we did in practice would translate over into the game. During the game, it was a true battle back and forth. Harvard is a good team, and they fought hard against us and made us earn everything we got. Coach Smith pulled us in a huddle and told us it was whoever wanted it more. We knew that we had to push through and fight for every loose ball and every rebound and do it as a team. After winning the game, it was an amazing experience. I wouldn’t have wanted to be on that court with anyone else but my teammates. We go through highs, and we go through lows, but we do it together and to accomplish this, and break the streak with them, was amazing.
BRSN: How long have you played basketball? How did you start?
SW: I was actually a dancer and a gymnast before I played basketball. Luckily, my father told me I was too tall for that, and I started playing basketball at 11 years old. I was horrible at first, but I loved playing it and worked on it everyday and eventually hard work paid off.
BRSN: How did you choose Cornell?
SW: I knew that I wanted to use basketball as a way to get an education. I chose Cornell because I knew I would be pushed not only at the basketball level, but also in academics. The competition here makes me strive to do better, and that’s what I was looking for in a school and what I found at Cornell. For any freshman college student, it’s a big transition, and I needed to make sure I had a family away from home. After meeting the coaches, and eventually the players, I knew I had that. The team is my second family — they’ve made my college experience, so far, truly unforgettable.
BRSN: What are you looking forward to the most for the rest of the season?
SW: I’m looking forward to being the best we can be. We lost ourselves a little in the games vs. Penn and Princeton, but we found ourselves again this weekend. I saw the amazing things we can accomplish, and with the talent and leadership from our upperclassman, the sky’s the limit. We’re competing for fourth place to make it to the Ivy tournament, and if we continue to play like we did this weekend, nothing can stop us.
BRSN: What are some of your interests outside of basketball?
SW: Outside of basketball, I love hiking and seeing all the beautiful gorges and trails around Ithaca. I am hoping spring might come early this year. Also, I love cooking – the other freshmen and I started cooking lately, and we’re surprisingly not that bad.
BRSN: What is one thing that most people don’t know about you?
SW: I grew up with two older brothers, so of course, I was not the “girliest” person out there. When I was young, I never wore dresses, and my mother would always find me covered in dirt while at soccer games or baseball games. My mother put me in dance classes for ballet to try and get me to be less of a tomboy, but she’d always find me later with a ball in my hand and dirt covering my face.