May 6, 2022 | SPORTS | By Samwel Makyao | Photo Courtesy of Vanessa Amsinger
Vanessa Amsinger ’25 is a guard for Colorado College Women’s Basketball Team from Montclair, N.J. Prior to joining CC, she was two-year captain for her high school basketball team, and a two-time first-team All-Super Essex Conference Selection. We met with Amsinger in Tutt Library and talked about her basketball career at Colorado College. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Samwel Makyao: Tell us more about CC Women’s Basketball and at what stage in your life you decided to start playing?
Amsinger: I started playing organized basketball in first grade, and I’ve loved it ever since! I knew I wanted to play college basketball when I started the AAU circuit as a freshman in high school, and it was one of the most formative experiences of my life. I got to travel all over the country for tournaments, which inspired me to look at colleges that were significantly far from the East Coast. When I visited CC, I knew it was home! I loved the coaching staff and all the current players. I knew it was a perfect fit, especially with the mountain views.
Makyao: What’s unique about basketball compared to other sports?
Amsinger: Basketball is an outlet for me to practice a creative, fast-paced, and physical sport with powerful, strong women. Basketball has always been a way to channel all my frustrations, and I would say that many of my teammates would feel the same way. We push each other incredibly hard during practice and even at pickup, but once we step off the court, we’re sisters through and through! It’s a special once-in-a-lifetime environment.
Makyao: What’s the best and worst thing about being a basketball player?
Amsinger: The best thing about being a basketball player is the community. I’ve built so many connections over the years from all over the country. From influential coaches to former teammates and campmates, the community itself is incredibly special, and I’m so lucky to have met so many great people. If I were to run into anyone from the basketball community, I know I can always rely on them no matter what. The worst part about being a basketball player is how badly your body hurts after a 6 a.m. practice. Time management can be hard, so making sure you’re getting proper sleep is crucial to prevent injury. You have to make a lot of sacrifices to be a baller, but it’s so worth it in the end.
Makyao: What do you hope to accomplish in the next five years?
Amsinger: I hope to keep cultivating friendships here at CC that last a lifetime, win a Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference championship, make the NCAA Division 3 tournament, and continue to be inspired by future career prospects. Also, I want to go to graduate school when I’m finished with CC. That motivates me to do well in all my classes.
Makyao: How did you become a great basketball player, and what current basketball player do you see yourself in?
Amsinger: It took a lot of work. In high school, I would get up at 4 a.m. to practice, train, and work out in the mornings before school, and it significantly improved my game. I think this type of work ethic prepared me for the college level. I also watched a lot of basketball growing up as a die-hard Brooklyn Nets fan, which improved my IQ of the game. I see myself as a mixture of Tony Kukoc and Derrick Coleman. Kukoc, is a lefty small forward like me, who was versatile and could guard the bigger players but also had a quick first step. Coleman, who played for the New Jersey Nets for a large portion of his career, is so fun to watch. He played with such swagger, could take anyone one-on-one, and was a masterful, dominant finisher. He could get downhill and step out and shoot the three, which are key features that I would associate with my own game.
Makyao: Who’s your role model or what inspires you to be the best? Why?
Amsinger: My mom and dad are my role models in life and inspire me to be the best version of myself. They faced lots of adversity in their respective careers, and I admire their work ethic, but also their zest for life. I hope to emulate the ways they navigate their lives.
Makyao: Apart from basketball, what other sports do you wish you had mastery in and why?
Amsinger: I really enjoyed volleyball in high school, and I wish I would have stuck with it in college and mastered it more. It’s a sport that I’ll miss for the rest of my life, and I’ll forever cherish my club and high school volleyball memories.
Makyao: If you could spend a day with any basketball player in the world, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Amsinger: I would spend a day with Michael Jordan and listen to his game-day rituals and how he took care of himself to compete at the highest level. Sports psychology has always been something that’s intrigued me, and I’d love to learn more about it during my collegiate career. I loved “The Last Dance” on Netflix, and I would highly recommend watching it to anyone who loves basketball.
Makyao: What is your most remarkable accomplishment and why?
Amsinger: I scored 34 points in a high school basketball game my junior year to upset a team that we had previously lost to earlier in the season. It felt good to get the dub for my team, and it solidified our spot in the conference championship!
Makyao: What are your top principles for success in basketball?
Amsinger: I have three: trust the process, not the results; play hard, finish soft; and rebounding keeps you on the floor.