By Rich Myhre Herald Writer
EVERETT — The idea was for Erin Feeney to graduate from Mill Creek’s Jackson High School in the spring of 2010, spend the summer practicing basketball, and then join the Western Washington University women’s team and become a star.
That was the plan anyway.
But good notions sometimes go astray, and so it was for Feeney. She enrolled at WWU in the fall of 2010, redshirted as a freshman, and then played sparingly a year ago.
And by the end of that second season she was ready to move on.
Her two years in Bellingham were “very humbling,” Feeney said. “You think after you do really well in high school you’re going to jump right into college and do fine. But there are girls ahead of you that have been there two, three and four years, and they know what it takes. So it’s very competitive.”
Playing only scant minutes last season, “I got kind of down on myself,” she admitted. “My confidence went down. I didn’t feel like myself up there. I wasn’t my happy, outgoing self that I normally am. And deep down I knew I wanted to leave.”
As it turned out, good news was just a phone call away.
Everett Community College coach Chet Hovde had recruited Feeney out of high school. After deciding to leave Western Washington, she called Hovde and was invited to join the team for the 2012-13 season. In fact, she transferred at the beginning of spring quarter which allowed her to play softball at Everett CC, another sport in which she excels.
And when basketball season got under way in the fall, it turned out to be good news for Everett CC, too.
With a month left in the regular season, Feeney is the top scorer in the 33-team Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges (NWAACC) at 24.3 points a game. She also set a school scoring record with 44 points against Olympic CC on Jan. 9, breaking the previous one-game mark of 42 set a decade ago.
Against Olympic CC, Feeney was 7-for-16 from the 3-point line, made all nine 2-point shots, and added five free throws. It was, Hovde said, “fun to watch.”
“I’ve been here about 28 years,” he added, “and I’d say she’s definitely in the top five for us in terms of talent and athletic ability. She has the whole package.”
Feeney is, foremost, a scorer. Playing the off guard position, she can score from anywhere on the floor, and on fast breaks or in the half-court offense.
“I’m definitely known as a 3-point shooter,” Feeney said. “That’s the first thing when people think of me. But I’ve also tried to add more to my game than just a 3-point shot. I want to attack the basket, draw fouls and get free throws, which is another big part of my game. But I also love to run and push the ball up the court.”
She has a smooth shot and a knack for making scoring look easy. Though it is not, she insists.
“I don’t think shooters are born,” she said. “LeBron James didn’t wake up one morning and say, ‘Oh, I’m going to be a great shooter.’ You have to put in a lot of work. I don’t think people realize how much work it takes (to shoot well).”
Though Feeney surrendered a full scholarship when she left Western Washington, she has never regretted her decision.
“I love Everett,” she said. “It’s really fun. I’m having a good time and I’m just doing the best I can out on the court.” Besides, she added, “there was a different path I knew I could take by coming (to Everett CC).”
Indeed, she has already accepted a full scholarship to attend Honolulu’s Hawaii Pacific University next season. Like Western Washington, Hawaii Pacific is an NCAA Division II program.
The Sea Warriors play an up-tempo style, she said, “so that should be a good fit.” But she is also looking forward to a change of climate. Specifically, “I love the atmosphere there. The beach life, being outside and the hot weather.”
As a recruiter, Hovde generally contacts all of the area’s top players, including those headed to four-year schools. If a girl is headed elsewhere, he always wishes her well, and then reminds her to think of Everett CC “if, for whatever reason, that (four-year school) doesn’t work out.”
And in Feeney’s case, “lo and behold, she gave me a call,” he said.
Hovde had a hunch it would work out since “this is a great place for someone in her situation to rejuvenate (her game), get her shot back and then move on.”
With a roster comprised largely of women from Snohomish County high schools, the Trojans are 10-9 this season, and 4-3 in the NWAACC’s North Division. Everett CC is bidding for a top-four finish and a spot in the league playoffs late next month, though there is work to do. Whatcom (6-1), Skagit Valley (5-2), Bellevue (5-2) and Peninsula (5-2) all sit atop the Trojans in the North standings.
“Top four in NWAACC, that’s our goal,” Hovde said. “There are five teams battling for those four spots and we’re right in the mix. And if we can make it to NWAACCs, I think we’ll be competitive with anybody.”