BOONVILLE - During her sophomore year at Starmount, Heaven Walters tore her ACL just five games into the regular season.
The second-year starter was sidelined for the remainder of the season and was forced to battle back to, not only return the following year, but ultimately reach her lifelong goal of playing hoops at the next level.
Walters, now the senior leader for the Lady Rams, saw her dream came to fruition Wednesday afternoon when she signed her official letter of intent to play basketball at Guilford College in Greensboro.
“It has been a long road, but it has been really exciting,” Walters said through smiles. “I have a lot of people to thank for my success; first and foremost, God, my family, Coach Brian Robinson and Coach Kellen Parrish, who has been my coach since I was young, has been a big part of this. I am blessed and thankful for everyone that has had a part in this and has helped me on my way.
“It has always been my dream to be a college basketball player. I’m really excited about the new chapter in my life. I’m ready for all the new blessings God has in store for my life,” she added.
Walters, who also had offers from Virgina schools Hollins University and Emory & Henry College, Meredith College in Raleigh and North Greenville University in South Carolina, said Guilford was the clear-cut choice.
“I have always wanted to go to Guilford,” she explained. “I went to basketball camps there when I was younger. It has always been a local school that I have liked and have been a fan of.
“I really liked the team and the coaches; I felt like I was at home there because I have been around it for so long,” Walters added.
Before heading up the road to Greensboro next fall, Walters, who plans on majoring in biology, reflected on the long road to her signing day.
“It’s been a long journey here,” she reminisced. “When I was a freshman, I was just so excited to be on varsity, then I actually got to start, and that was amazing. Then my sophomore year, I tore my ACL, so I was only able to play five or six games. It was so devastating to me because I knew I wanted to play college basketball and I knew that was not a good thing to happen.
“But my junior year, I really had a lot of people who influenced me. [Former Starmount] Coach Scott Blackburn and Parrish, my AAU coach, helped me get back in shape and get where I needed to be,” Walters continued. “It’s been a long road, but I’m blessed to be here where I am now.”
The long road has one more stop this winter in Walters’ final season in Starmount orange and blue.
“I’m going to have fun with [my senior year],” she said. “I’m going to do what I can do and hopefully encourage my young teammates and get some wins this season. I’m definitely going to have to be a leader this year, step up and get the freshman to step up too.
“It’s going to be bittersweet; I’m going to miss Starmount,” Walters added.
The senior, who also played AAU ball with the Winston-Salem Stealers, joins a Quaker program that is ranked 11th in the Women’s Div-III News Preseason Top 25 Poll this season. Walters is expected to play a big role in her first season.
While the road has been tough, Walters said she learned a valuable lesson from her knee injury during her sophomore campaign. A lesson she said she will take onto Guilford.
“I definitely know not to take anything for granted because of that. I know what it means to work hard and when you really want something, you have to go get it and make sacrifices, be a leader and go after it,” she said.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or email@example.com.