By Dave Ricci email@example.com
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — Katie Proy laughed when she was asked: do your teammates like you because of how hard you work, or because your mom (Karen Proy) always has homemade baked goods for the team after each game?
“A little bit of both,” Proy said with a grin.
While Mrs. Proy’s brownies can certainly be classified as a winner, so can the play of Katie Proy this season. Proy has led the Blue Devils to a stronger than expected start in the Niagara Frontier League, compiling a 5-1 record in the league.
With nine points and 14 rebounds per game Proy, a junior, has been a force in the paint and, along with Sam Britton, has given the Blue Devils their first solid 1-2 post punch in a long time.
Making varsity last season Proy, like most players, dealt with some growing pains. You could tell at times Proy was struggling with the combination of the speed and physicality of the varsity game compared to JV. But she hung in and saw what she needed to work on.
“I learned that I needed to be a lot stronger,” she said. “Go up hard and don’t give up.”
Proy is more secure in her surroundings this season after hesitating at times on the court last season. Now she knows improvement is a day-to-day process.
“You can’t just learn everything in one day,” Proy said. “I work everyday to get better in everything.”
What has been the key to Proy’s breakout? Simple. Commitment.
Katie Proy wanted to get better. But more importantly she was willing to put in the work and the effort that it took to become an all-around better basketball player.
“She’s reaping the rewards of her hard work,” said Lady Blue Devils coach Mike Licata. “She didn’t just grow up because she got a year older. Here’s a kid who dedicated herself. She played AAU, she played all summer, she went to camps. So it’s a perfect example of we all get a year older — Katie spent her time making herself bigger, faster, she knows the game much better. Anyone who sees her can see a completely different player out there.”
Proy’s turnaround came during summer league action. Along with playing for Ken West, time spent with her two AAU teams — the Fury and Revolution — not only helped Proy refine her fundamentals, it also gave her that added element of grit and toughness that had been lacking in her game.
Now physically stronger, Proy has shown that she is more than willing to get her nose dirty. To dive on the floor, battle for loose balls and do whatever it takes to help the Blue Devils win.
Licata said now that Proy has an even better understanding of how to utilize her size, she is moving with a greater purpose on the court and making the most of her height and reach.
“A lot of big kids just use their size. But she doesn’t just rely on her size,” said Licata. “She’s moving to gaps, she’s understanding the game. She’s sealing people off with her body, she’s playing good defense. We’re going to keep adding things to her game, but Katie has made a tremendous amount of progress.”
“I know the coaches expected a lot of me, being a returner.” Proy said. “But I wanted to do more than what they expected.”