Contri leads the way at Willamette University |

Contri leads the way at Willamette University

by Chuck Smock

Rosie Contri loves a challenge.

Growing up with three older brothers taught the former Douglas basketball, softball and golf standout a thing or two about being competitive.

That experience has served Contri well during her junior basketball season at Willamette University in Salem, Ore.

Contri, a natural shooting guard, has played all five positions for the Bearcats this season. For the last three games, she has been the starter at power forward, where the 5-foot-6 former Tiger often has to guard players who are 6 feet tall or taller.

“I think when the coach asks me to do something, like posting up, if my teammates see that I can do that maybe it will give them the confidence to do something they’re not used to doing,” Contri said. “I love being challenged and having to work hard for something.”

Through 11 games, Contri leads the Bearcats in scoring (13.4 points per game), rebounding (eight per game), field-goal percentage (.509) and steals (2.6 per game). She is also second in assists (two per game), despite spending more time in paint than on the perimeter.

Willamette was 4-3 through seven non-conference games before dropping a pair of road games against Northwest Conference powers George Fox University and Pacific Lutheran University in early December.

Contri scored 14 points to lead the Bearcats against George Fox, which was the No. 9 team in the nation in the NCAA Division III at the time. She scored 12 points against Pacific Lutheran, the preseason favorite to win the Northwest Conference.

She finished with a season-high 21 points and tied her season high with 13 rebounds in a 76-51 win over UC Santa Cruz on Dec. 15.

The former Tiger has been Willamette’s high scorer seven times and has led her team in rebounding seven times. In five of the first 11 games, she has led the Bearcats in both categories.

“I love playing down low because you can get physical,” she said. “If you’re playing point guard, you can’t do some of the things you can do when you’re playing post.”

Contri stayed in Salem over the summer and worked on her game with Kelly Sorenson, the Bearcats’ leading scorer from last season who is now a graduate assistant coach at Willamette.

Playing against Sorenson allowed Contri to develop confidence in her ability to shoot the ball. It also provided Sorenson with the opportunity to give Contri a few tips about what it takes to be a leader at the college level.

There are no seniors on the Willamette roster this season. Of the three juniors, Contri is the only one who returned with extensive playing experience. The rest of the team is made up of nine sophomores and one freshman.

“I wasn’t nervous at all,” Contri said of the prospects of stepping into a leadership role. “I was ready to do it. My whole life, I’ve always loved the challenges.

“It’s a little different having people look up to me come to me with all their problems, but I like it. I like being responsible for things and I like being held accountable.”

Contri is majoring in sociology and minoring in media communications. She says she might pursue as career as a sports psychologist, but she is sure about one aspect of her future.

“I really, really want to coach,” she said. “I really enjoy doing that.”