Tonawanda News — The tale is a familiar one: a talented high school athlete performs well at the junior varsity level, makes varsity as a sophomore and carves out a long and successful athletic career.
However, this tale has a twist. The athlete, in this case, did make varsity as a sophomore, but she hardly played as a 10th-grader. When she became ready to contribute, she not only played well, but dominated.
Savanna Baughman, a senior center-forward for the Tonawanda Lady Warriors, took the road less traveled to becoming one of the best players in ECIC IV. Having played exceptionally well for the Warriors’ JV team, she attempted to make the Warriors’ varsity roster in 2011. She succeeded, but when she found out what her role would be, she wasn’t pleased — at first.
“I would second-guess myself,” Baughman said. “I kept asking myself, 'What am I doing wrong? I'm trying to improve every day and I'm still not getting that much playing time.' But our team was great. I just opened my eyes and finally realized, 'Hey, I'll get my time next year.”
Warriors coach Jay Hall said that despite the talent that a player like Baughman had, he knew that she wasn't ready for the spotlight, and that sitting and learning from older players would do wonders for her development.
“When we see people who have talent, we try to bring them along slowly so that way they won't be thrown into the mix too soon,” Hall said. “Savanna learned from watching and practicing against a lot of former players, and I think it made a tremendous impact on her development."
Some of those former players, like former All-Western New York selection Tina Partridge, Kendra O'Connor and Joanna McCarthy, made the biggest impact on Baughman by making her add more elements to her repertoire.