Yellowjackets senior Wager a total leader

Times file photo Williamstown’s Bethany Wager handles the ball during a high school girls basketball game earlier this season.

Williamstown girls’ basketball coach Fred Sauro knew last spring he was only going to have one senior on the 2017-18 version of his Yellowjackets team.

Bethany Wager was going to be asked to do a lot to help a young team trying to find its way after losing six seniors from last year’s Class A state runner-up, so Sauro set her down for a discussion on leadership and what Wager thought the coaching staff and her could do to be a better team.

“She really took her time and had all these great things,” said the 33rd-year head man. “Some of the things she said she wanted to see change among the dynamic of the team and those recommendations helped foster those.”

Wager only had one shot at taking the lead as she has missed time dealing with a fractured back the last few years.

“I knew I wanted to be a complete leader because I would be the only senior,” said Wager. “I knew from being on the team the past three years seeing what I didn’t want to do and what to do that was good. I learned from past seniors and kind of had in my head what my goals were and want I wanted to do for this team.”

Though it may sound cliche … Her actions have spoken louder than any words could this year.

Whether it was the entire Wager family taking the kids out for ice cream, going out of her way to do shooting drills with all the young kids or just making the newcomers feel welcomed, her plans have the Yellowjackets sitting one win away from a state tournament berth in what could have been a rebuilding year.

“I knew we could be good with a positive attitude,” she said. “My goal was to be positive and help the young girls … I wanted to make sure everyone felt included, especially the freshman. I liked the other girls talking to me when I was a sophomore.”

Freshman Keely Alsup confirmed Wager’s approach has made a big difference in her adapting to the high school team this season.

“Just as a person she is always encouraging and lending a hand,” said Alsup. “She is a great person to be around. It makes you feel good and you definitely don’t feel under anyone else and you fit right in if not feel even higher.”

Her actions haven’t just taken hold during practice and off the court, but during live-game action as well.

Wager is the best shooter on the team and her willingness to always take a shot or drive hard to the lane has translated into the younger kids taking more shots.

Taylor Newton, Kayli Sauro, Alsup and Izzy Erb are all shooting the ball better especially toward the end of the season, which has translated into the Yellowjackets playing some of their best basketball of the season right now.

“She has definitely provided a good example,” said freshman Mara Rinehart. “Just seeing her being able to take it to the rim and shoot it is inspiring. It helps me know I can take it to the rim too.”

Rinehart and Alsup’s words were definitely appreciated by the senior.

“I didn’t think I would have as big an impact as I have,” said Wager. “I am really glad I did. I hope they were receptive. I feel we are a really close team this year and maybe because of my leadership and everyone getting along we are one big and have come together.”

“I’ve handled it well I think,” talking about being a leader. “I think I have done a good job being a leader and am proud of myself for what I have done.”

Her head coach thinks the same thing.

“She has done a great job,” said Sauro.

Joe Albright is an associate sports editor for The Marietta Times. He can be reached at (304) 485-1891 ext. 255.

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