After two years of slashing across the hardwood for the Howard Lady Hawks, guard Averie Benson has recently announced her commitment to William Penn University. The Amarillo native will be making the 12-hour move northeast to Oskaloosa, Iowa, where she will finish out her two years of athletic eligibility as a member of the Lady Statesmen.
“The culture was the biggest thing,” Benson said. “They’re also very welcoming and they know that I want to be a coach/education teacher and they have great classes for that.”
On the court, William Penn plays in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) as members of the Heart of America Conference. They have been a top-level team under third year coach Steve Williamson and that consistency is expected to continue into the future.
Benson was one of the most consistent players on the Lady Hawks last season and has spent the past two years at Howard College. She averaged 5.1 points per game and was one of the strongest defenders on the court while suiting up in the red and black.
Even though she was not the flashiest player on the court for the Lady Hawks over the past two seasons, she still did enough to catch the eye of Williamson.
“Just watching her on the film that we had on her, I think she shoots the ball well, I think she’s a competitor and to see her go up and play against those types of players in that conference showed me that she’s a competitor and she won’t back down,” Williamson said.
In addition to playing for the Lady Statesmen, Benson has expressed her desire to go into coaching and teaching following her time in college. One of the selling factors to her was the academic program at William Penn and how it will prepare her for a career in that field.
Benson was only a short three-hour drive away from her hometown of Amarillo during her time at Howard but will now be moving across several state lines to her new home. Although, Benson is doing what she feels is best for her future. After speaking to several schools, including one located near Dallas, Benson still decided that the next step in her journey would be to leave her home state of Texas.
The high-energy guard was one of just seven members of the Lady Hawks that finished the 2019-20 season and she always left everything she had out on the court. A perfect example of that was displayed during a game against Ranger College last November.
With the clock winding down and the Lady Hawks needing three points to extend the game, Benson caught a pass on the far side of the court behind the three-point line and let the shot fly. The ball seemed to be suspended in air forever before it dropped down and the net delivered its trademark noise: Swish.
“We needed a three to tie the ballgame and Jazz was passing the ball and I was on the opposite side. When she passed the ball to me, I hit the three to force the game into overtime at the buzzer,” Benson said.
There were many moments that stuck out to Benson during her time at Howard. In addition to those on-court memories, the connections that she made with her teammates will never go away and the Lady Hawks coaching staff will always support her.
After the Lady Hawks finished her sophomore season with a disappointing 7-22 record, Benson will now be joining a squad that has combined to lose only 10 games in the past two years with Williamson as Head Coach. There were seven seniors on the Lady Statesmen this past year, meaning that Benson will be one of the most experienced players on the roster when she arrives on campus.
“I hope that they’ll find me a role and I can adjust to it and whatever they need me to do, I’ll do,” Benson said.
Williamson added, “We expect her to come in and give us some experience at the guard position and we expect her to come in and be a mentor for some of the younger kids because we do have a lot of freshmen coming in this year. It’ll be better to have someone like her that knows what college basketball is all about and she’ll be able to mentor some of those younger players.”
Benson has been training since the coronavirus began and believes she will be a more polished player starting this winter. After spending the past two years in Big Spring, Benson will be the third former Lady Hawk to sign with a four-year university following this past season and will step-in as one of the most experienced players on her new team.
She will get to continue her basketball career for the next two years before hanging up her jersey for a whiteboard and a whistle. But before Benson can begin her transition to being a coach, she must first take the next step in her basketball journey: William Penn University.
Shawn Moran is the sportswriter at the Big Spring Herald. To contact him, e-mail email@example.com or call 432-263-7331.