By Garrett Collins
As the winter season of Plattsburgh athletics continues and enters the middle portion of the season, coaches have had more than enough time to tinker their lineups in order to get the best combination that is going to translate to wins. During this time starters can become bench players and bench players can become starters.
One player in particular has started every game after the first game. She has quickly become an important part of the Cardinals women’s basketball team’s offensive attack and is proving that even as a first-year player there is always room on the court for young players to exceed amongst veterans. First year forward Payton Couture is a two sport athlete, who also plays goalie for the Plattsburgh Women’s soccer team. Since coming off the bench in the first game, she has carried the load for the Plattsburgh offence not only contributing in a big way, scoring double digits in every game. She is third on the team in average points per game, scoring 13.7 points a game. Not only has she been a force on the offensive side, she also has been an anchor on the defensive side, ranking second on the team in blocks.
Despite being a 1,000 point scorer in highschool, collegiate basketball was another level that forced Couture to prove herself valuable against seasoned teammates.
“I had to prove myself,” Couture said, about playing at the collegiate level.
Although her game on the court allows the team to speed up when she’s on the court, her ability to grab rebounds, especially on the offensive side, helps her team keep possession, and in turn gives them more opportunities to score. Couture already contributes more than what the team needs from their forward. Couture, on the other hand, is always looking at ways to retool her arsenal to get better at the things that she might feel she needs help on.
“I would say probably three point shooting,” Couture said. “I came in later from soccer so I didn’t have a lot of [time] to get in the gym and shoot around. I would also say free throw shooting because I struggle with those a little bit.”
Despite training throughout the fall season, the conditioning as a goalie isn’t the same as the consistent running during a basketball game.
“They are completely different sports, especially with the position. I would say the hardest transition would be the conditioning,” Couture said. “You don’t run a lot, but it was good for short quick bursts, so that kind of translated but the stamina didn’t relate because I had none.”
A lot of athletes, especially basketball players, look up to professionals and try to find a style of playing to emulate. However Couture, only wants to go out there, play and have fun.
This first year of college hoops has been an experience for Couture-its lieka breath of fresh air for her. The team seems to have each other’s backs, and the team feels like a family.
“I like the relationship with the teams and coaches. “Couture said. “It’s a lot better than high school. Everyone gets along; there’s no drama here or anything.”
Even though it is her first year on the team she is already developing a positive voice, especially on the court.
“I try to be a loud positive energy which is hard to do in a game,’’ Couture said. But during practices I keep the energy up and just have fun with it and joke around while still being productive obviously.”
Couture is proud of how her team has been able to bounce back from adversity.
“Early on, we had the injury with Hannah and Misa that was hard because of how big of players they are for us,” Couture said. “I’m proud of how close we all are and our chemistry.”
For a player that is so new to her team, she is making an impact on the Plattsburgh women’s basketball team in the best way possible. Hopefully, this stunning start to her college career is something that she can continue for years to come.