Watterworth Seven: Lake Orion Baptist star the last in line of long legacy of athletes |
BY DAN STICKRADT
LAKE ORION — Growing up in a household of athletes, Breanne Watterworth has drawn a lot of comparisons to family members and has had a lot to live up to over the years.
Instead of always trying to mimic everything her siblings or parents have accomplished, the current senior at tiny Lake Orion Baptist High School has slowly carved her own niche in a long line of family lore in athletics.
“I have always looked up to my brothers and sisters, but I have never tried to be just like them,” said Breanne Watterworth. “I am my own type of (athlete).”
The seventh of seven children in the Watterworth household, located in Orion Township, Breanne is the last in line — for now. Some of her siblings have small children, far away from high school. So it’s understandably, that Breanne is writing the last chapter for the time being. But it predates the seven siblings. Even her parents, Brad and Sue, were accomplished athletes in their own right.
“I have heard all the stories,” said Breanne, who is a 6-foot-3 center in basketball and middle blocker in volleyball. “I have gone to watch so many games and have watched games with my dad and my brothers and sisters. It’s a big part of my family’s life.”
HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF
It’s no secret that sports and the Bible — the entire Watterworth family is devout Christians — occupy the time of every family member at one point or another. It’s almost second nature, a significant part of their lives.
Breanne’s father, Brad, was a three-sport star at Oregon (Ohio) Clay High School near Toledo in the early 1970s, starring in both basketball and football while competing in field events in track and field as well. Brad still holds the career rebounding record at his alma mater and eventually played Division I college football at Georgia Tech.
Breanne’s father’s claim to fame was playing in the Georgia Tech-Notre Dame football contest of the mid-70s — otherwise known as the famed “Rudy” game later made known in the Rudy film.
“I know all about it,” laughed Breanne.
Even Breanne’s mom played a year of college volleyball when girls high school and women’s collegiate sports were just rooting in society.
Then there is seven wonders.
In the late 1990s, Breanne’s eldest brother, Brett Watterworth, played two years of basketball at Lake Orion High School, including varsity ball as a sophomore, before playing his last two years at Davison Faith Baptist. The 6-foot-7 sibling played for a school that finished as the Michigan Association of Christian Schools Division I boys basketball state runner-up in 2000.
Athletics success was mounting in the family.
Next was Brooke Watterworth, who starred in basketball, volleyball and soccer. The 6-foot-1 talent led Davison Faith to multiple state championships in her four-year career. She was a standout goalkeeper in soccer and strong post player in basketball, her best two sports.
Brandon Watterworth, who stands 6-foot-4, prepped two years at Davison Faith and two more at Lake Orion Baptist. He was, as his father puts it, “probably the most athletically gifted” of the children, and collected 12 varsity levels between soccer, basketball and baseball.
Brittany Watterworth, who is 5-foot-10, earned 12 letters between Davison Faith and Lake Orion Baptist, and corralled a few MACS state runner-up titles in her sports.
Next up was 6-foot Bethany Watterworth, who mainly starred in basketball. Playing one year at Lake Orion Baptist before switching next door to Lake Orion High, she led the Dragons to the Class A Final Four as a senior in 2009 to become the most accomplished basketball player in school history. Currently, she is a firth-year senior at Division I Oakland University and one of the Golden Grizzlies’ all-time greats.
The torch was later passed to 6-foot-8 Bradley Watterworth, who spent two years at Lake Orion Baptist playing three sports — soccer, basketball and baseball. He finished as a MACS state runner-up in each sport at least once. After transferring to Lake Orion High for his junior and senior years, he concentrated on basketball and helped the Dragons reach the Class A state quarterfinals as a senior in 2012. Additionally, Bradley is a starting sophomore center at NAIA college Lawrence Tech.
That sets the stage for the youngest of the group. With a lot to live up to, Breanne Watterworth is bringing up the caboose, yet has had an equal amount of success in her own right.
“They all have so many stories to tell, so many (accolades),” said Breanne of her siblings. “I just try to be myself.
“I have learned a lot from all of them,” she continued. “I always got a chance to play with them or (work out) with them in the driveway or at the church.”
MAKING HER OWN NAME
It was during sister Bethany’s ride to the Final Four at Lake Orion that Breanne really started to gain her true love for athletics. She volunteered to serve as a water girl for Lake Orion’s varsity and was on the bench for the Dragons’ memorable run.
When it came to high school, Breanne opted to remain at a smaller school, Lake Orion Baptist, but by no means is she untalented. She’s just a big fish in a small pond.
Despite missing half of her freshman campaign due to a hand injury, Breanne is set to leave Lake Orion Baptist, just a 40-high school student burg, with dozens of schools records. She will leave with nine varsity letters, one in soccer and four each in volleyball and basketball.
In basketball, she had a memorable contest as a sophomore that featured 50 points, 30 rebounds and eight blocked shots. So far this season, she already owns a 42-point game and she averaged 25.1 points and 25.0 rebounds a game as a junior — the latter believed to be the highest single-season average total in Oakland County history. She has posted similar averages for a young team this winter.
This past fall, she led Lake Orion Baptist to the MACS Division I volleyball state title —
the school’s first and only state title in any sport. That accomplishment bested all of her siblings that ever went to Lake Orion Baptist or Lake Orion High — a state title ring — and matches elder sister Brooke as the only sibling to ever win a state title overall combining all sports.
“I don’t really think about that. I am just glad to help my school win its first state title,” she said. “The school has been close so many times.”
Actually, 10 total state runner-up trophies between seven sports dating back to 2002-03, the first year Lake Orion Baptist opened its doors on the campus of the First Baptist Church of Lake Orion. The youngest has helped make history for her school.
“I guess God has blessed me, actually my whole family, in terms of (successfully) playing sports,” noted Breanne.
“All of them are great kids and very good athletes, especially basketball,” noted Janet Noruk, who coaches girls basketball at Lake Orion Baptist. “They are such an athletic family.”
As for right now, the seventh of seven children is finishing up her high school career and is set to be the third straight Watterworth sibling to gain some type of college scholarship. Breanne Watterworth recently signed with NCAA Division II Cedarville College in southern Ohio after talking to numerous Division I schools, including Oakland, Youngstown State, Akron and several Division II, Division III and small Christian colleges.
“I really like going to a smaller school, That is what I’m more used to,” said Breanne. “I talked to a few Division I schools that were interested, but Cedarville was the best fit for me.”
As a dominating post player, the youngest Watterworth hopes to go out with a bang.
Lake Orion Baptist took down defending Michigan Association of Christian Schools Division I state champion Troy Bethany Christian Monday, 36-24, and advanced to Friday’s state semifinals against top-ranked and unbeaten Rochester Hills Christian.
“I just want to help my team do as well as we can,” said Breanne. “As a senior, that’s all I can do.”
As for telling tales, there’s plenty of more chapters to be written in the Watterworth lore.