Prepare for Waners’ world at Duke.
Next year, sisters Abby and Emily Waner will both be playing for head coach Gail Goestenkors’ women’s basketball squad. Emily, a sophomore transfer from Colorado, must abide by NCAA regulations and watch from the sidelines this season. Abby, a high school senior who committed to Duke in early June, will join her sister on the 2005 active roster.
For now, Emily is adjusting to life in North Carolina, a far cry from the mountains of Colorado.
“It was really scary when I made the decision to leave,” Waner said. “I was really comfortable, but I needed this. I needed to go somewhere far from home and try something different.”
Emily originally decided to attend Colorado to play for a program close to her Highlands Ranch, Colo., home. After becoming a Buffalo, however, Emily met Duke assistant coach Gale Valley, who was scouting the younger Waner. Shortly after Abby decided to play for Goestenkors, Emily annouced that she would follow her sister to Durham.
The younger Waner sister, who was more highly recruited than Emily, was a member of the undefeated 2004 USA Women’s Junior World Championship Qualifying Team, averaging an impressive 17.8 points, 3.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 3.8 steals per game. Heading into her senior year at ThunderRidge High School, she is considered to be one of the top shooting guards in the country.
Abby was not the only Waner sister to flash some talent on the court last year. At Colorado, Emily showed an ability to suceed at the Division I level and was the first true freshman to start for Colorado since the 2000-2001 season. In her year with the Buffalos, Emily was named Big 12 Freshman of the Week twice, averaging 7.1 points per game.
Although she has only been through part of her first presason, Emily has already noticed differences between the Colorado and Duke programs. Specifically, the Blue Devils have better team chemistry, she said.
“Coach G does a lot of team bonding stuff,” Emily said. “There are a lot of meetings with you as an individual, a lot of goal setting and inspirational quotes.”
One change that has not quite hit the sophomore yet is her position on the bench this season. In practice, Emily has had to adjust to sometimes playing with the male practice squad rather than with her teammates. She plans to use this year as a time to be “a student of the game” and to get adjusted to Goestenkors’ coaching style.
Off the court, Emily is transitioning to a much smaller collegiate atmosphere. The former business student changed her academic track at Duke and is now considering medicine.
The older Waner sister is easing into a new setting and is eagerly anticipating becoming an eligible player on the Duke team a year from now.
“One thing I really noticed was that everyone is real supportive of each other,” Emily said. “There is a lot of talking and cheering each other on. There is a lot of enthusiasm and that is just in practice. I can’t wait to see the games.”
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