Warriors’ Schaller Ready to Swoop Onto Curry College Court
Beginning AAU basketball when she was in fifth grade, there has not been a day that has gone by where Siena Schaller does not have basketball on the brain. And fortunately for her, it is not going anywhere outside of her cranium anytime soon.
This season, Siena, a senior captain and point guard for the Valley Regional girls’ basketball team, helped lead the 21-5 Warriors to the Shoreline Conference Tournament semifinals and the program’s first state final berth since 1999 behind numbers of 4.4 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. More spectacularly, she will continue her hoops dreams beyond this season, as she has committed to Curry College in Massachusetts.
“No matter what, I never gave up. If I was off on something in a game, I worked in practice on that one specific thing,” says Siena. “After a tough loss, I worked on things that I could’ve done better that would have changed the outcome of the game. I never got in my head; even in our state final this year, no matter how close the game was, I never lowered myself as a player. I always watched NCAA basketball, so when I got the acceptance letter, it felt unreal because it showed all of the hours of work paid off. It’s great to know I can carry on my basketball career for another four years.”
Siena’s dedication really shined through when it came to piloting the Warriors’ offense and bringing the ball up the floor–going to offseason camps on playing the 1-guard assignment–helping her become a fantastic facilitator and ball handler.
“I went to a training gym called Revolution in Manchester for point guard training,” Siena says. “I love setting up other teammates to score and get their best shot selection. Against the quicker teams with fast defenders, it could be hard to stay in the same mindset if they kept tipping the ball loose.”
Playing on a small 10-person roster this campaign, Siena’s role, along with the roles of her fellow senior captains, was certainly magnified. Yet she recalls that they stayed close to each other and discovered a little bit about each other through interactions.
“With myself and the other captains, we have always had a leadership role since the teams have been so small,” says Siena. “When [Head Coach Jaimie Bickelhaupt] had to go on maternity leave this season, we knew we had to step up for [interim Head Coach Bryan Field] and encourage the underclassmen, and we noticed the growth of them. It was one of the longest years we had with the number of games we played, and we learned a lot from each other.”
Siena’s senior campaign was certainly lengthy, but for all the right and enjoyable reasons due to the Warriors completing the Run to the Sun with the state final berth at Mohegan Sun Arena. But she notes that through all the peaks and valleys, it was the victory that amounted to her final one with Valley that stood out.
“We had ups and downs this year, but when we started playing this year, we were not ourselves,” says Siena, as the Warriors got out to a 2-2 start. “We started to get our rhythm going after the first game against Cromwell, and then we started beating teams by a lot. Before the state semifinals against Cromwell, we talked about how this could be our last game but also that we would not let that happen. Winning that semifinal game is something we will remember forever.”
While eager to see where Siena’s next strolls in the lane take her, Bickelhaupt knows they will be something to watch given all she contributed on and off the floor for the Warriors.
“Siena is extremely dedicated to the sport of basketball, which I think sets her apart from some other teammates,” says Bickelhaupt. “She’s constantly in the gym working on her game, which is great to see. She stepped up in a leadership role this year, along with her other senior captains, and faced adversity with the team head on. She came to practice ready to get better and always gave 100%. I’m excited for her to continue her basketball career at Curry College, and I can’t wait to get to some games.”
The feeling is certainly mutual between Siena and her coach, who Siena describes as a masterful mentor and motivator and someone who has helped forge the current path she is heading down as she readies herself to emerge on a collegiate backcourt.
“Coach Bickelhaupt is a perfect role model, and she showed she cared about us when her first thought was about us and our season when she found out she was pregnant last year,” Siena says. “Throughout my four years, I noticed improvements in myself and everyone else. Coach Bickelhaupt always made sure we had our schoolwork done and would tell us how we are scholar athletes, not just athletes. I would not be able to play at Curry without her as my coach.”