Patience and dedication

Jamie Kapalko

Imagine that someone took your driver’s license away and said that you’d have your learner’s permit again for a year. You wouldn’t be allowed to drive without a parent in the passenger seat. This maddening form of torture would be forced upon you in order to correct and fine tune your driving skills, which doubtlessly have fallen by the wayside in the years since you passed your road test.

The frustration of this hypothetical situation is not unlike that of a red-shirt year for a college athlete who has spent the previous years thriving in the arena of high-school sports. Fifth-year senior basketball player Jackie Adamshick was red-shirted her freshman year, but she saw the advantages of sitting out. The wait prepared her for a flourishing career as a Wildcat, one which she hopes to culminate this year with a successful season for the team.

Adamshick grew up in Allentown, Pa., and attended Allentown Central High School, where she ran cross country and track in addition to playing basketball. Her talent on the court earned her endless recognition, from an acknowledgment on the 2002 McDonald’s All-American Top 100 Players list to the title of 2002 High School Athlete of the Year.

Despite her impressive resume, it was no surprise that Adamshick was red-shirted upon her arrival at Villanova.

“Harry [Perretta, head coach] does it a lot because it takes awhile to learn the system,” Adamshick said. “He red-shirts a lot of people to get them a year of practice experience.”

It was especially practical in her situation because the team was loaded with veterans and experience.

“There were three seniors who played a bulk of the minutes and a couple other older girls, so I really wouldn’t have had much of an opportunity to play too much,” she said.

Adamshick spent the year practicing with the team, traveling when possible, developing her skills and familiarizing herself with the team’s offense. The benefits of spending a year on the sidelines were obvious, but they didn’t make it easy.

“It was a long year, to come out of high school playing all the time, and then have a whole year of never playing in a game,” she said. “It was tough in terms of missing the competitive aspect of it. I just had to push myself in practice and treat that like it was my games.”

Adamshick’s patience and dedication paid off the next year when she was finally free to check in at the scorer’s table. She played in all 30 games, averaging 8.0 points and 3.1 rebounds per game.

That year, the team beat UConn, a game Adamshick said was one of the highlights of her career at Villanova. She scored 13 points in the game, including a key 3-pointer that gave the Wildcats the lead with 3:05 left in the game.

Adamshick attributes much of her early success to the strong foundation that her red-shirt year laid out.

“Everything came a lot more easily as far as plays and everything go, and understanding Harry’s system and how he works,” she said.

Since then, Adamshick has been an integral part of the Wildcats’ lineup. She started all 31 games her sophomore season and led the team with an average of 13.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per contest. Last year, she was named Big 5 Player of the Week after the Rhode Island Thanksgiving Tournament. She racked up 10.7 points per game and led the team in rebounds, grabbing 6.3 per game.

In her fifth and final year on the team, Adamshick has become a team leader.

“It’s my job to keep everyone in order and help them come along as quickly as possible, and just push everyone and try to get the best out of what we are,” she said.

Red-shirt freshman Tia Grant recognizes Adamshick’s positive influence on her teammates.

“She pulls everyone’s confidence up,” Grant said. “She helps everyone else out a lot. She’s a great teammate because whenever someone’s struggling or getting yelled at, she’s always there to make them feel better.”

Adamshick isn’t resting on her laurels in her final season. She hopes to improve her foul-shooting skills, and she wants the team to progress every day. This season, she is particularly looking forward to playing George Washington University, a team that has defeated the Wildcats two years in a row. Villanova takes on the Colonials in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 29.

After this season, Adamshick won’t be leaving Villanova – or the women’s basketball team – right away. She plans to stay on board as a graduate assistant while completing her mater’s degree.

Besides a long list of noteworthy basketball accomplishments and an MBA, Adamshick will take something else from her years at Villanova: the lesson that patience and dedication pay-off.