STORY BY ANDREW BEALL
Drake Women’s Basketball is off to an impressive start this season, winning 10 of 11 games in conference play, the second-best start in Drake basketball history.
A huge part of this success is thanks to last season’s Missouri Valley Conference Freshman of the Year, Lizzy Wendell.
Her sensational play in her sophomore season has made her the sixth leading scorer in the country, and is currently the highest scorer in the MVC.
Her average of 23 points per game has earned Wendell national recognition as one of the best players in the country. However, few know that this basketball superstar is one of nine siblings. Growing up in that environment has helped her to become the player she is today.
Most would expect that it wasn’t easy growing up with 11 people living under one roof, but Wendell said she had great relations with every single one of her siblings.
“I loved it. Having seven sisters and a brother was pretty cool,” Wendell said.
The 20-year-old lands right in the middle of the lineup, which includes Tara (28), Megan (27), Kristen (25), Jennifer (22), Maria (18), Joe (16), Abby (13) and Grace (9).
“It’s a great spot to be in and I have a good relationship with all of them because I’m not too different age-wise with anyone,” Wendell said.
Basketball is a Wendell family tradition, passed down from Lizzy’s grandfather to her father and now on to her.
“I played on a … league that my dad coached,” Wendell recalled. “I was in second or third grade and my sister was two grades above me and they didn’t have enough people so I started playing on their team: the Angels.”
Her father worked to help her hone her skills, something she will always be grateful for.
“He coached me from when I was young up until eighth grade, and taught me everything I know,” Wendell said. “I always worked on my shot outside with him.”
Wendell’s father isn’t the only one who has supported Lizzy’s career, as her whole family has been there for her every step of the way.
“My parents and family and siblings are really supportive,” Wendell said. “My parents usually come to every home game here, which is awesome, and bring some of the kids.”
It is comforting for Wendell to know that her family will always be cheering her on even if they cannot be there in person. Her grandparents make sure to catch every game on television and the rest of the family always keeps up with how she is doing.
Growing up with so many siblings was something of a team sport, and those formative experiences taught Wendell how to be the best teammate she can be on the court.
“As siblings we are all kind of similar, but we do have a lot of differences, so I think just having to get along with them and seeing what they need from me at different times has helped with how to handle different situations,” Wendell said.
As the season moves towards its conclusion and with conference tournament play starting in early March, the pressure to win each game seems to increase.
Wendell, however, feels prepared, knowing the expansive support system she has at her back.