Dreaming big on the basketball court since fifth grade, Alyssa Blankenship is spreading her wings at Walla Walla University.
The 2016 Washougal High School graduate led the Wolves with 15.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.6 steals per game. Even though Walla Walla only won twice, Blankenship became the first girls basketball player from the school to win the Cascade Collegiate Conference Freshman of the Year award.
“It’s an honor,” Blankenship said. “I chose Walla Walla because I wanted to be a big part of building a program. The fact that I made an impact, and that the other coaches noticed, makes me happy.”
It didn’t take Blankenship long to figure out that the game moves faster in college. She could no longer get away with risky passes or cuts.
“You are scouted very early in the season,” she said. “All of the teams seem to know you right away. They were taking moves away from me within the first couple of games.”
Blankenship remained tenacious thanks to the support from her family, friends and mentors back home.
“Washougal is my roots. My foundation,” she said. “My entire experience in Washougal prepared me for any amount of success I have ever had. From countless games and practices in fifth grade through high school to my great coaches, trainers and teammates. It all shaped me.”
She continues to seek knowledge from her father, Jason. He coached her and several other Washougal girls in the Future Lady Panther program.
Alyssa Blankenship and her friends carried that bond into high school and took the Panthers all the way to fourth place at state in 2016.
“I want to help Walla Walla accomplish what we accomplished at Washougal,” Blankenship said. “My junior and senior seasons were filled with a lot of firsts. I would like to think [RaeAnn Allen] and I had a lot to do with changing Washougal into a winning culture. I want to do that at Walla Walla.”