( This is the fifth in a series of articles about the new players on the University of Louisville women's basketball team. Since we are doing these in alphabetical order...Jessica Laemmle is up next.)
WALK ON, WORK IN, WANT IT...
There are statistics out there that indicate a little less than 2% of girls who play high school hoops move on to play at the Division I level. Take those odds and then figure in the probability of ending up on a top five preseason team as a freshman. Then factor in that it is in your hometown. And, you're a walk-on.. Jessica Laemmle completes the superfecta. There was never any doubt in her mind, though. She explains
" There was no doubt in my mind that, if I was walking on anywhere, I would walk on at UofL....I'm here and Coach Walz is giving me the opportunity and I'm just going to excel at it."
It wasn't like this was the only opportunity Jessica would ever have to play NCAA women's college hoops. There was interest from several NAIA and NCAA D II programs. She saw it this way:
"I'd rather be a small fish in a big pond than a big fish in a small pond. My family has been long-time season ticket holders and the Cards swim in the biggest of women's basketball ponds".
It's not like the Cards are bringing in a mascot or anything. Jessica was Louisville Catholic Sports Player of the Year. She shoots 80% from the free throw line. She's been described as a "tenacious defender" and " a player that leaves it all on the floor". Her coach at Mercy Academy...Keith Baisch...who was an assistant coach at Louisville from 1998-2001...was supportive when she was initially considering going for the preferred walk-on role.
" I didn't see it as a negative. It's just a way of saying that it'll take a little more time to prove herself...and I think Jess can handle that."
A team is made up of all types of personalities, skill sets and roles. Laemmle contacted Walz...Walz made it clear that no walk-on is ever guaranteed an eventual scholarship and it is an uphill battle. Sometimes, people discount walk-ons...despite the fact that the Cards have has some pretty good ones in Shelby Harper and Dakota Weatherford over the years. That doesn't bother Laemmle.
"When someone tells me I can't do something, I try to turn around and do it. That is my role right now...being a walk on...so I can't dismiss it. I'll have to earn the respect."
At 5'2"...she qualifies for CARDINAL COUPLE'S "Attack Yorkie" squad (players 5'5" or shorter). We see her now as a "30-30" player (getting in the game when the Cards are up by 30 or with 30 seconds left in the game) but don't discount her moving up the ladder. Intensity and defense get Walz's attention. She has both of those skills.
We're pretty sure she'll fast become a fan favorite...because she's local, because she's fun to watch on the court and because of her hustle and dedication.
She'll also burn you right off the bat. I had the opportunity to see her play last year against J'Town. She made an impact just five seconds into the game...having the opening tip directed to her...driving down the court and sinking a mid-range jumper. We hope she has many opportunities to dribble, shoot and score with the Cards.
FIVE FUN FACTS ABOUT JESSICA
1) Doctor, doctor? Doing a Google search, I discovered there is a veterinarian in San Diego, CA named Jessica Laemmle. Leading a dual existence?
2) Floor Exercise...Jessica was a gymnast until the 10th. grade. Maybe she'll do a triple somersault and stick the landing after a layup! (We give her 10's already...)
3) No relation...some relation... During my days at UofL, I had a great Political Science professor named Phil Laemmle. Although not related to Phil, she is Louisville sports journalist Jody Demling's niece...
4) Hoops in the family. Her dad, Rick Laemmle, was a 6th. grade basketball coach at Mercy Academy in 2016. We're pretty sure she's a better free throw shooter than him, though.
5) Winner, winner...chicken dinner! Jessica lists chicken as one of her favorite foods. So do 2017 verbal Lindsey Duvall, Cortnee Walton, Myisha Hines-Allen and Sam Fuehring. Maybe CARDINAL COUPLE should open a Bojangles restaurant near campus...( I miss the Bojangles chicken in the area. You can still find them to the south of us.)
JUST FOR FUN...CAPTION THIS PICTURE
Lamar Jackson, UofL QB...has made the cover of Sports Illustrated, It's an interesting photo. Just for fun, feel free to caption the photo and put it in the comments section.
I put my "caption" in the photo below:
|WHAT STARTS WITH AN "E" and ENDS WITH AN "E"?|
WHAT IS "ENDZONE, ALEX?"