Senior Center Cassidy Boensch, from Au Gres, Michigan, has continued to impress in her fourth and final year at Grand Valley State University.
Coach Mike Williams struggled to find words to describe the feeling, but he says his star player just gets it.
“She gets everything and she doesn’t have a lot of holes in her game,” Williams said. “There was a learning curve for her in different aspects. From an athletic standpoint, it was probably a learning curve but other than that she always had it.”
As she’s grown up in her four years under Williams, he says that Boensch has gotten stronger, more balanced and more aggressive.
Although they’ve had some talented players at GVSU in the past, Boensch is a new animal. She is the closest thing the school has ever had to Hakeem Olajuwon, physically dominating her competition and has the second-highest field-goal percentage in school history.
“She’s pretty good,” Williams said. “We’ve had some pretty good players here. We have had players that were All-Americans and Cassidy is definitely in that boat.”
Boensch isn’t just talented, but she has also become a leader on the GVSU Women’s Basketball team.
“One of the things that she’s done, and the whole senior class has done is become tremendous leaders,” Boensch said. “I think you have to have that to be a good team and it doesn’t always happen. She’s become a great leader and mentor to our younger players.”
Although she is a talented player now, as a young girl, Boensch remembers where it all started for her.
“The first memory I have of playing basketball is when I was 6 years old and my brother set up stations in the kitchen,” Boensch said. “He had me dribble around a bunch of chairs and coached me through it.”
Boensch said she still remembers the people that got her excited about the sport. She admired their intensity and love for the game.
“We were just talking about that there was a group of girls that were way older than me back when I was in high school that first got me into sports, with how intense they took it and how competitive they were,” Boensch said. “However, when it came to professional players, I always liked Brianna Stewart when she was at the University of Connecticut.”
As a senior, when Boensch looked back on her career at GVSU, she remembers a game against Ashland from last year.
“Coming out of timeout for that final possession and Natalie (Koenig) scoring a left-hand layup to the rim and then came down and got a defensive stop,” Boensch said. “That whole segment is a video that’s posted on Twitter all the time and it’s probably my favorite thing to watch.”
Williams helped Boensch with her mindset to be successful. He helped her realize that just because you aren’t playing a perfect game, doesn’t mean you aren’t playing a good game.
“The coaches have helped me get better at staying with plays,” Boensch said. “Accepting that if you’re shooting 50 percent from the field, that’s a pretty good field goal percentage and you’re going to miss half of the shots that you’re taking. If you can get that next play, you can put it back in and same thing on defense. Somebody might get a shot off on you but you have to focus on the next thing which may be getting the rebound because they’re going to miss half of their shots too.”
Boensch said that although she committed to a different coach when she decided on GVSU, she is glad Williams ended up being at the school. She knew after one phone call that he was going to be a great coach and mentor for her over her four years.
“I am so grateful that I will have four years of playing under coach Williams,” Boensch said. “He pushes you to be your best at things and reframes things in a way that makes it doable. It’s hard to describe how good of a coach he is but he’s made me more resilient, tougher, pushed me to be my best and showed me that I can always improve.”
Moving forward, Boensch, like some seniors, is unsure where her next chapter will lead her and is trying to keep her options open.
“My long-term goal is med school,” Boensch said. “That’s what I’ve been studying at GV but I’m not sure where this year will take me. I wouldn’t mind the opportunity to play basketball after this year. It’s really hitting me that in a few months I could be done playing this sport and I don’t know if I’m ready to give it up.”
Now that she is moving on at the end of the season and leaving the team to the younger generation, Boensch is optimistic that her senior class affected the team in a positive way, just like the seniors did for her when she was new to the team.
“I feel like the seniors that were here our freshman year did a great job of establishing a great culture at Grand Valley,” Boensch said. “However, we feel like we’ve really impacted that culture as well and created an environment where everybody on this team wants to be competitive, win championships. We feel confident that we are doing everything we can to push that forward. We stayed late in the summer and put in extra work and we’re proud about that.”
As she moves on to the next chapter of her life when the season ends after the GLIAC Championships in March, Boensch is going to miss the people more than anything.
“Grand Valley and all of the people here are what I’m going to miss the most,” Boensch said. “My teammates are the same people I’ve lived with since freshman year and it’s really hard to imagine that we’re going to be in different corners of the world in a few months so I’m going to miss them the most.”