By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After being diagnosed with concussion like symptoms that would likely sideline her for all of the 2012-2013 Lady Lion basketball season, Marisa Wolfe had a choice to make. The senior captain could either sulk about her injury or make an impact on her preseason Big Ten favorite Lady Lion squad.
Wolfe chose the latter, but it didn't come easy. It took a little while for her to adjust to not being able to contribute on the court.
"One of the hardest times was our first game where my family was here, but I wasn't coming out in a uniform," said Wolfe. "It was probably right after that, though, when I thought I needed to step up as a captain and play that role as best as I can and do the things off the court that I can do the most."
The 6-foot-2 forward that saw significant minutes one year ago has now transitioned into her role on the bench as a leader and as what her head coach called her, the "mother hen" of her No. 8 ranked squad.
What does this mother hen do? Everything except play in the game itself. While that is still something Wolfe is adjusting to, she has accepted her role simply by not changing anything in terms of practice and interacting with her teammates and coaches.
"It's still hard, it's always going to be hard," said Wolfe. "Just being around the team and seeing them work hard makes it better. Keeping them positive and myself staying positive has really helped instead of drowning in my sorrows."
Wolfe has continued to be a leader on the bench, but just in a different form. She participates in drills in practice, while telling her teammates what to do in particular situations. In games, she's on the bench relaying messages from her coaches to her players.
Essentially, according to head coach Coquese Washington, Wolfe has become another assistant coach.
"It's tough not seeing her out there," said Washington. "There are some nights I go, 'man I wish (Wolfe) could play'. But, she's in practice every day with a wonderful attitude. She's like another assistant coach out there working with the post players and you see her under the basket talking to Candice (Agee) and helping her understand what we are supposed to do."
By communicating with Washington and assistant coach Maren Walseth, Wolfe believes she has started to look at the game differently.
Through this change, she has started to look at the game from a coach's perspective and by having Walseth, Washington and the rest of the coaches supporting her changing role; it has become a satisfying experience.
Now, Wolfe has continued to expand her role as a leader, especially with the younger post players, Tori Waldner and Candice Agee.
"Marissa was already a captain and she maintains that role still, but she's also more of a post leader now," said Waldner. "The coaches have asked her to tell us what they want and she has to vocalize that to us. She helps us with our drills, comes earlier, stays after and she really has stepped up in being a really big player for us off the court."
Wolfe hasn't completely separated herself from the game just yet, though. She still shoots; she still trains, all to be a voice and a role model for her teammates. However, when the season is over, Wolfe will move on from basketball.
The Ford City, Pa. native is a communication sciences and disorders major, with a minor in human development and family studies and is also the Student Athlete Advisory Board representative for the Lady Lions.
After college, she plans to attend a grad school. Through her studies, she has been able to use them as yet another asset on the Lady Lion bench. In a unique way, Wolfe can communicate with her teammates on and off the court.
"You have to be a good listener," said Wolfe. "If they need to get things out, let them get it out. Once they're done, then I can say what I need to say to help them."
On the road, especially, Wolfe provides a calming presence to her Lady Lion team, and more importantly has become an example for what it takes to be a leader.
Waldner, just a sophomore, said she has been following what Wolfe has done during her time on the sidelines and it has set a precedent for what she wants to do in a couple years when she becomes a leader.
Fellow senior Alex Bentley was simple when asked what Wolfe brings to the team, using the same description as Washington: mother hen.
"(Wolfe) is pretty much the spirit of the Penn State Lady Lions," Bentley said. "She's always talking to us, you can always hear her voice during practice, warm ups and during the game."
In the end, for Wolfe, her four years at Penn State have had their ups and downs, but the respect she gets from her teammates, coaches and just being able to be around those people have made it worth it.
"You can't get this experience anywhere else," Wolfe said. "Whether you are playing or not playing, you are still a part of it and it's something I am going to remember for the rest of my life."