ELIDA – Three years ago Abby Waddle was flying across the goal mouth to protect the Shawnee goal.
Now, as a senior, Waddle is still diving for balls.
Only now, she’s at Elida and she’s nose diving for balls on the hardwood floor.
Waddle spent two years at Shawnee, before coming over to Elida for her final two years.
And while Elida hasn’t had as many wins as she would like, she’s the team leader and driving force. At the end of a recent practice, she took one of the freshman players aside for a chat.
“She’s our coach out of the floor,” Elida co-coach Chrissy Billiter said. “If the girls aren’t where they need to be, or we need that pick up, or we need an in-your-fact, you’re not doing what you’re supposed to, Abby is that player. She makes everyone else around her better because of her work ethic. She’s a gritty kid and it’s contagious.”
Waddle signed to play basketball at NAIA Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne. She leads the Bulldogs in scoring (15.5), assists (2.1) and 3-point shooting (46 percent). Waddle also leads the team in free-throw percentage (76.2 percent) and is second in rebounding (6.4).
To her coaches, it’s her leadership ability which stands out on a Bulldogs team which is 8-13, 3-5 in the Western Buckeye League.
“She’s a leader by example, and she does it every day,” Elida co-coach Elise Jenkins said. “Her attitude is exactly what you want a player to be if you are a coach. … She is just a model kid. The epitome of one (a leader).”
Waddle grew up in a sports family. Her father, Doug, played several sports at Bath and went on play baseball at a catcher at the University of Dayton. Her mom, Nicole, played basketball, volleyball and softball at Elida.
Her sister, Kate, played soccer at Shawnee and is now in the Navy.
Waddle grew up playing soccer, basketball and softball. By her freshman year, she was concentrating on basketball and soccer.
As a freshman at Shawnee, she was the starting goalie on the WBL championship team with the likes of her sister, Katelyn O’Connor, Britt Lauk and Shelby Lucas.
“I was just ecstatic just to know they needed someone (in goal),” Waddle said. “It was fantastic winning the WBL. I remember the St. Marys game to win it (the WBL).”
But by then, Waddle’s No. 1 sport had changed from soccer to basketball. By then, she was a regular by then on the AAU basketball circuit.
She also was the first person off the bench for the Shawnee basketball team under coach Jeff Heistan.
As a sophomore, she again was the starting goalie at Shawnee and started on the Indians’ basketball team.
A family decision was made after her sophomore year to transfer from Shawnee to Elida. Her uncle, Don Diglia, was the Elida superintendent and she also wanted to live with her dad in Elida.
“A lot of people think the wrong reason that I came to Elida,” she said. “I honestly didn’t come for basketball. I wanted to spend time with my dad. But my mom and dad both do so much for me and them being able to support me here at Elida was awesome. I have the biggest heart of them because they are the reason I am the person I am today, my parents, teammates and coaches.”
With Elida this year, it’s been Waddle and her teammate Bailey Kuhn who provide a lot of the encouragement for the younger players.
“After a game, there are always positives that come out,” Waddle said. “And Bailey Kuhn is the most positive person and she is always giving us little notes after the losses. And sometimes it’s not about the losses. It’s about making sure our team stays together. We really have team chemistry. We’re like a bond of sisters. I’m happy that even after a few losses we’re still pretty tight.”
Waddle’s total game has improved this year, thanks to coming to the Elida Fieldhouse every day last summer. Besides lots of shooting, she played and worked out with a number of the Elida boys players, including Austin Allemeier and the graduated Louis Gray.
“The guys were more intense and they are more physical and it’s good to have people push me,” she said.
Waddle played stopper in soccer her final two years at Elida. This year she made all-WBL and all-district.
This should be her second straight year as an all-WBL basketball player.
“I played four years and it’s been four great years, whether you win or lose,” Waddle.