Marc Maturo’s official sports column
Pomona native Walker lives dream as pro in Portugal
The last time we checked in with Alaina Walker, the Pomona native and Albertus Magnus HS alumna was starring on the women’s basketball team at St. Bonaventure University.
Last year Walker was among all category leaders for the Bonnies. She tied for the club lead in steals, was second in assists, third in scoring and, as a guard, she tied for second in rebounds.
This year Walker is playing professionally in Portugal with Olivais Coimbra and, as she told the Rockland County Times, “living out a dream.”
“My time here has been a great experience,” Walker relates. “After I signed the contract I had to fly out on January 20. It was difficult for me to leave after losing my grandmother a few days earlier but I know she would’ve wanted me to make the decision that I did. In some way, I saw it as a blessing — she got me to this point so not only do I do this for myself, but most importantly I do it for her.”
Olivais Coimbra, which went 11-9 in an inconsistent season, made the Portugal-Liga Feminina playoffs but was to meet the No. 2 seed in the first round.
“Since I’ve been here we have been up and down,” Walker noted. “It’s going to be a difficult challenge but I’m always up for that.”
During the course of an extensive basketball background, Walker can point to a number of coaches who helped the process that might one day lead to a career in the WNBA.
When asked, Walker named Jesse Fleming (Bowling Green), Sarah Cartmill (Binghamton), Jacey Brooks (Bowling Green), Priscilla Edwards (St. John’s), Ryan Gensler (Loyola-MD), and Kate Achter (St. Bonaventure).
“(They all) helped not only develop me into a better player but also a better person off the floor,” observes Walker. “I had the opportunity to play with two of my former coaches Tiara Johnson (St. Bonaventure) and Andrea Doneth (St. Bonaventure) and if I can take anything away from what I’ve learned from them is that playing with effort and energy brings many positive things. Those two always gave 110 percent while they were playing and as coaches as well. I’m forever grateful for that.
“But most importantly, my former head coach Jim Crowley who is still coaching at St. Bonaventure today not only believed in me but pushed me to get better and he brought out the best in me. … He believed that I had what it took to play overseas and I will always thank him for what he did to help get me here.”
Walker said her knack for rebounding is a testament to her defensive desire.
“I was a starting point guard for the Bonnies three out of my four years there, and rebounding is one of my best assets. I pride myself of winning rebounds and defending the opposing team’s best player. It’s a challenge that I loved to take.”
Walker acknowledges that the level of competition as a pro is a bit different than the collegiate level.
“I was in one of the best conferences in the NCAA (Atlantic-10). The main difference between where I am now and college is adjusting to the referees,” Walker relates. “The way they call fouls is definitely different than back at home. You can be more physical in college. Here not so much. The level of competition is good because you play against the best of the best. You have WNBA players and top college players all playing in one league so you know on any given night you will get someone’s best shot.”
Walker, who said she had no particular preference of where to play following college, is happy about the decision she made.
“I just wanted the chance to play and get that experience that I have always dreamed of,” Walker notes. “My dad played basketball for Syracuse and when I was talking to him he said ‘I regretted not going overseas to play. If I could make that choice again I would’ve went.’ I knew I didn’t want to regret not being able to experience something like this. This is a little kid’s dream out there today. It was my dream and I’m living it. ”
STILL RUNNING WELL: St. Thomas Aquinas College track standout Winslow Dorsainvil of Monsey narrowly missed the Ramapo Roadrunner Invitational meet record (10.73) when he won the 100 in 10.74. Dorsainvil, a Spring Valley HS alum and the East Coast Conference track athlete of the week, also took fourth in the 200 with a season-best time of 22.14 and anchored a 4×100 relay to third place in a time of 43.07. George Erazo of North Babylon won the 400 in a time of 50.02 while Mike Galonski of Newton, N.J., was second in the 5,000 in a time of 15:42.33. Mike Kraus of River Vale, N.J., ran 1:58.44 to take fourth in the 800. On the women’s side, Meaghan Ventarola of Monroe was third in the steeplechase in a time of 11:44.89. Spring Valley HS alumna Samantha Gabriel took fourth in the triple jump while Keeley Bateman of Pearl River placed eighth in the 800 with a time of 2:23.60. Bateman was also on the victorious 4×800 relay team along with Gabby Sloezen of Westwood, N.J., Gina Funaro of Queens and Allison Borriello of Montgomery. The Lady Spartans clicked in 9:55.01.
DIAMOND SHOWCASE: North Rockland HS has four games upcoming in the ongoing High School Baseball Showcase, hosted by Provident Bank Park in Pomona in conjunction with the Ramapo Local Development Corporation. Besides the Red Raiders, the showcase will feature other teams from Rockland County, Westchester County, Northern New Jersey, and New York City. The showcase is open to the public and admission is free of charge.
April 14: Pearl River vs. Clarkstown North, 7 p.m.; April 19: North Rockland vs. RC Ketchum, 7 p.m.; April 24: North Rockland vs. Tappan Zee, 7 p.m.; April 25: Suffern vs. Albertus Magnus, 4 p.m.; April 26 (tripleheader): East Ramapo vs. Nanuet, noon; North Rockland vs. Pearl River, 3 p.m.; Clarkstown South vs. Nyack, 6 p.m. April 27 (quadruple-header): Clarkstown North vs. Tappan Zee, 9 a.m.; Suffern vs. Nyack, noon; Clarkstown South vs. Albertus Magnus, 3 p.m.;
East Ramapo vs. Nanuet, 6 p.m.; April 28: Briarcliff vs. Pleasantville, 7 p.m.; April 30: Bergen Catholic vs. Wayne Hills, 7 p.m.
May 3: Nanuet vs. Haldane, 7 p.m.; May 9: Woodridge vs. Hasbrouck Heights, 7 p.m.; May 13: North Rockland vs. Suffern, 7 p.m.; May 18: Tappan Zee vs. Pearl River, 7 p.m.;
May 31-TBD: Section 1 Championships.
For more information about the showcase and other events at Provident Bank Park, including the 2014 Ramapo Summer Concert Series, visit www.ramapoparks.org or call 845-357-6100.
QUICK HITTERS: Senior defenseman James Burke of New City and the Ithaca College men’s lacrosse team battled eighth-ranked Cortland before falling, 8-7, at Higgins Stadium in Ithaca. The 11th-ranked Bombers, who posted their second shutout in program history in waylaying Houghton, 19-0, host Empire 8 opponent Nazareth on April 12. … Senior midfielder Lauren Kahn of Nanuet is the leading scorer with 41 points (24 goals, 17 assists) on the women’s lacrosse team at the University of Connecticut. UConn, which defeated Rutgers, 12-11, with Kahn notching three goals, hosts Georgetown on April 11 at 4 p.m. and Marquette on April 13 at noon, with both games at the George J. Sherman Sports Complex on the university campus in Storrs, Conn. …. Nyack native Francesca DeLorenzo is the assistant athletic director and women’s lacrosse coach at Purchase College. The Panthers visit SUNY Maritime in the Bronx on April 12 at 1 p.m., and are home on April 14 to host the College of Mount Saint Vincent at 3 p.m. … North Rockland HS graduate Tara Monaghan of Stony Point led the Cortland women’s lacrosse team with three goals as the undefeated Red Dragons overpowered host Oswego, 11-3, in SUNYAC action. The nationally second-ranked Red Dragons (9-0, 3-0 in the conference) were to visit Middlebury, Vt., on April 10 before returning home on April 12 to host Buffalo State at 12:30 p.m. Cortland hits the road again on April 17, meeting St. John Fisher in Rochester. … St. Thomas Aquinas College men’s tennis standout Javier Munoz-Laguna of Sevilla, Spain, was named rookie of the week by the East Coast Conference. … Junior Bryan Grieg of New City preserved a 4-2 victory as the Mercy College baseball team salvaged a split with St. Thomas Aquinas College. STAC won the opener, 7-1. In a follow-up twinbill in Dobbs Ferry, STAC elevated its record to 15-9 with a 6-4, 7-5 sweep. The Spartans meet LIU-Post on April 11 at Provident Bank Park (PBP) in Pomona at 3:30 p.m., then travel to Post for a twinbill on April 12 before returning to PBP on April 13 for another game against Post at 1 p.m. Junior Rich Baerga of Pomona is leading STAC with a .368 batting average and is second on the club in RBI with 18, two behind Stanley Susana of the Bronx. … The Rockland CC baseball team beat rival Westchester CC, 14-6, at Manhattanville College in Purchase. … Rockland CC leads the Mid Hudson Conference golf standings, followed by Ulster CC. The Hawks are sparked by Brian McGarvey, ranked second in the player standings, with Benedict Tagle sixth, Daniel Tagle seventh and Emilio Ruiz eighth. Pocholo Chavez of Stony Point, a tennis standout at Purchase College, was named to the Skyline Conference honor roll for player of the week after notching three wins in singles action and three victories in doubles play.