Senior McKayla Yentz Reflects on Time at Marquette
Feb. 23, 2017
Marquette senior forward McKayla Yentz didn’t always picture herself as a leader.
But as the lone junior on a freshmen-laden team last year, Yentz was thrust into a leadership position that has carried over this season as the only senior in a group of mostly underclassmen. Although at first she described the experience as overwhelming, Yentz said she’s grateful for being forced into this role.
“It’s an unique experience I didn’t necessarily think I was going to have when I came to Marquette but I think it happened the right way and for the right reasons at the right time,” Yentz said.
Yentz credits head coach Carolyn Kieger for helping her change and grow as a leader by pushing her to get outside of her comfort zone. Kieger joined the team in her current capacity three years ago after Yentz’s freshman season.
“She helps me to be the best leader and person I can be every single day,” Yentz said. “There’s different things I’m getting more comfortable with that I used to think were not really me and that includes being a vocal leader in practice, leading warm-ups and continuing to hold my teammates accountable to the level of excellence I hold myself to.”
Yentz considers herself a leader by example and said it is essential her teammates trust that she would never ask of them something she wouldn’t do herself. She said she tries to act as a role model for her teammates every day to build habits that will pay off in the long run.
It’s no coincidence that as Yentz has developed as a leader, so too have her skills on the court. The Sun Prairie native took home BIG EAST Most Improved Player hardware last season, as she set new career highs in points and rebounds almost every game out and notching her first two career double-doubles. After appearing in only 11 games as a freshman, Yentz steadily improved, playing in 27 games her sophomore year followed by a shift to a starting role her junior and senior seasons. In her most improved player campaign, Yentz raised her point average from 2.8 to 10.0 and her rebound totals went from just over one a game to over five.
The rangy 6-1 senior has continued last year’s success this season, starting 25 out of 27 games and putting up over eight points a game while leading the team in three-point percentage, knocking down 38.7 percent of her attempts. Yentz credits her improved shooting and defense as products of a tenacious work ethic that goes back to her freshman year.
“Putting in that work throughout my college career has really helped me develop as a player,” Yentz said. “There aren’t necessarily a ton of people that can shoot it as well as me being how tall I am and it helps to be able to shoot over the smaller guards.”
The Golden Eagles sit tied for third with Villanova in the BIG EAST standings and have taken down all four ranked teams they have faced, but Yentz has her sights set on a bigger prize. Among her goals? Taking home the BIG EAST Tournament title on the home floor and making the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2010-11 season.
No matter how the last few weeks of the season end up, Yentz has learned a lot about herself from her time at Marquette.
“My career at Marquette was not what I planned when I was a high-schooler but I know that it worked out the way it should have and even though things don’t always work out how you plan, they work out how they’re supposed to be,” Yentz said.
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