By Vincent R. Crawford
Special to the NNPA News Wire from the Arizona Informant
More than 100 NCAA Division I nominees competed for five spots on the prestigious 2016 Allstate Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Good Works Team. The team honors college basketball players that have dedicated themselves to bettering the lives of others through giving back to their communities. One of those award winners was University of Louisville’s Cortnee Walton, who graduated from St. Mary’s in Phoenix, Ariz.
“It’s a great honor,” said Walton, who is a 6-foot-3 redshirt junior forward for the Cardinals. “It just feels like I’m having fun.” A lot of great players were nominated and not chosen.
“We were very fortunate growing up. My family is big on giving back because we believe in a higher power. We need to give back, that’s how my parents (Kristina and Christopher) raised me, to help people.”
Walton was selected along with George Mason’s Taylor Brown, Northern Iowa’s Stephanie Davison, Utah’s Danielle Rodriguez, and Georgia Tech’s Katarina Vuckovic. The women will be recognized at the 2016 NCAA Women’s Final Four, in Indianapolis. Voting panels of former coaches, college basketball athletes and media chose the recipients. College and NBA/WNBA greats Grant Hill and Tamika Catchings led the panel.
“It’s cool if you do not play basketball, but it’s also very important to give back,” said Kristina. “We brought Cortnee up in church and gave her that foundation of knowing the Lord, but it’s all her. You can plant the seed, but it’s up to her to grow and she’s definitely doing that.
“This means that the things she learned here, she’s carried it on and it means a lot to us as a family to know that Cortnee is honoring us on and off the court. We are very proud of her.”
Walton has volunteered her time to Family Scholar House (disadvantaged families); Girls on the Run (teaching life skills); Women 4 Women (fundraising); Maryhurst (mentoring girls with behavioral disabilities); Bring Peace Home (family violence prevention); Read to Achieve (literacy importance); and Healthy Hoops Clinic for Kids (for asthmatic kids).
“We brought Cortnee up to be more community service minded and volunteerism was a requirement at St. Mary’s,” said Christopher, Cortnee’s father. “Cortnee is a hard worker and she does the dirty work on the court and in the community. Volunteering came natural to her and she carried it onto her college career and she got awarded for it. It’s a great accomplishment and a great award.”
Academically, Walton graduated last year with a bachelor’s in communications and is pursuing a master’s in sports administration. On the court, 11th-ranked Louisville (22-6) is 13-1 in the ACC and Walton is the only Cardinal to play and start in each game. She is second on the team in rebounding (7.7 RPG) and fifth in scoring (6.4 PPG).
Walton’s sister, Brandee, plays for New Mexico State and her brother, Isaiah, is a starter for St. Mary’s.