From the minute she stepped onto campus at Phoenix Desert Vista in 2010, Emily Wolph was an instant star in the making.
But exactly how she reached her potential in transforming from a shy freshman with a ton of raw talent to a poised senior captain signed to play college basketball next year at Santa Clara required a bit more time.
As a freshman on varsity, Wolph stepped into the rotation right away and averaged 8.9 points, 3.6 assists and 2.4 steals per game. Not bad for someone only a few months removed from middle school. Yet despite her production, Wolph wasn’t entirely comfortable with her success. She didn’t want to overstep her boundaries as the youngest player on the team.
“I didn’t talk at all; I was in that shy stage; I was just the skinny and scared one,” Wolph said. “But honestly, it matured me as a person. You get your eyes open to so many things playing at that level at such a young age. It was a learning experience and it has helped get me to where I am now.”
Where Wolph is now is leading Desert Vista to an early 6-0 record by scoring 20 points per game over the first couple of weeks of her senior season. No longer unsure of herself, Wolph is playing with confidence and taking hold of the leadership reins on the floor.
“She’s like another coach on the court,” Desert Vista coach Jontar Coleman said. “Her drive, her passion and her determination is so great. All she wants is to make the program better and win. She’s just a competitor out there.”
Lighting up the scoreboard so frequently, Wolph naturally garners some extra attention from opposing teams. But when the defense does begin to close in on her, the guard does an outstanding job finding the open player, especially her center, 6-foot-4 Kristine Anigwe, in the paint.
“When Emily gets going, it opens up the inside for Kristine and she always finds her,” Coleman said. “She does a great job distributing the ball where it needs to go.”
After being eliminated from the playoffs each of the past two years by eventual state champion Phoenix St. Mary’s, Wolph is hoping she and Desert Vista can finally get over the hump this time around and capture the school’s first girls basketball title.