New Castle News

Shenango

July 4, 2012

Female Athlete of the Year: Shenango’s Michelle Watson

NEW CASTLE — None of Michelle Watson’s coaches really consider her an athlete.

Sure, she might have been one of the best pitchers in the softball program’s history. She might be the only person in Brian Cooper’s 19-year tenure as girls track and field coach to win four WPIAL championships. She might have even spent her entire spring practicing for both sports because they happen to fall at the same time of year.

Doesn’t matter. When Cooper and Shenango softball coach Amy Delaney think about Watson, sports aren’t on their minds.

“Even putting in all that time and everything else, she always gave of herself,” Cooper said. “She was always involved in organizations where she helped give back to the community — Peer Leadership, Big Brothers, Big Sisters — all different clubs. For someone who was spread so thin with athletics, she always found time for others. I think that says a lot about her and the person she is — someone who has their priorities right. It’s not really about her, it’s about what she can do to make herself better as an athlete, better as a person, better as a help to the community.”

Watson has done a lot in all of those areas over the years, and her senior campaign was no different. Her efforts on and off the field, court and track led to Watson being named Lawrence County’s female athlete of the year by the New Castle News sports staff.

BUSY SEASON

Watson won the shot put and discus events at the WPIAL Class AA championships in May. She’s owned those events the past three years, winning the shot put as a sophomore and the discus as a junior.

She was equally dominant in softball.

The hard-throwing right-hander finished with a 2.52 ERA and 150 strikeouts in 125 innings. The Lady Wildcats tied for first place in WPIAL Section 5-A with an 11-1 record and advanced to the WPIAL Class A playoffs for the second straight year. Watson also hit .438, second best on the team, and drove in a team-high 29 RBIs as the club’s clean-up hitter.

She competed in both sports during the spring, balancing practices, games and school work and excelling in all three. She’s been doing it throughout all four years of high school, so she understands the effort required to meet her goals.

“I’d definitely say time management is important,” she said. “You have to be willing to put in the extra hours. After everyone else goes home, you have to be willing to stay. There’s a lot of sacrifice, but it’s worth it if you’re giving it your all.”

Watson also was a starter on the Lady Wildcats’ volleyball team, working as a passer and defensive specialist for a Shenango team that went 14-6 and advanced to the playoffs for the fourth straight year.

Watson, who earned an academic scholarship to Robert Morris University and will participate in track and field, is one of the most decorated athletes to go through Shenango (she has 12 varsity letters in all). Her coaches said her accomplishments weren’t necessarily because of her natural talent. Watson didn’t rely on her God-given skills. She developed her abilities to become the type of athlete she is today.

“She’s that type of person,” Cooper said. “She’s a competitor. She loves to compete. She pushes herself, and if you have the talent and you have that drive inside of you, you have a very special person. She always stepped up at the highest level. She was that type of gamer who rises to the competition.”

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