When it comes to women’s basketball at Northern
Arizona University, senior Amy Patton is one of the best there’s ever been. A
5’10 shooting guard who has averaged 17.5 points per game during her career,
Patton is poised to break the Lumberjacks’ all-time scoring record this season.
She also recently won a scholarship that – until now – had only been awarded to
male basketball players. Dominant on the court since she arrived in Flagstaff,
Patton was named an All-Big Sky Second Team selection last year.
But Patton is focused on something that goes
beyond her role as a star basketball player – balance. As a marketing major and an athlete, Patton
knows that the ability to juggle multiple obligations can often mean the
difference between failure and success. Though her drive toward balance started
early, Patton says her time at the university has provided her the skills she
needs to succeed.
Developing under fire
Patton credits a large part of her success to
her family. Her father and brother, she says, were especially important in
helping her to develop her game and motivating her to dream big.
“When I was younger, my dad used to take my
brother and I out to the park and play against us,” Patton says. “That got me
started. My brother used to work with me, too, and I just grew from there. My
parents got me into club basketball in high school, and now I’m here at the
Patton started all four years at McClintock High
School in Tempe, during which time the team posted a 96 - 30 record. Patton
eclipsed her competition at the high school level, earning various statewide
and nationwide honors, including the Arizona Gatorade Player of the Year as a
After being heavily recruited by universities
across the country, Patton chose Northern Arizona University to stay close to
her family and to be part of the university’s renowned business program.
Initially, she had a difficult time balancing the increased academic demands of
the university with team practice, but she is grateful for the experience
because it instilled within her a strong foundation for success in both areas.
“It definitely took time coming in as a freshman
– maybe a whole year – to get situated and learn how to manage time right,”
Patton says. “I feel confident I’m there now.”
A multifaceted All-Star
While Patton was adjusting to life off the
court, she was dominating on it. During her freshman campaign, Patton led the
Big Sky Conference in rebounding and double-doubles; she also notched the most
30-point or more scoring performances, and 10-rebound or more performances, a
first in the conference’s history for a guard.
In time, Patton also excelled in the classroom –
she is a two-time recipient of the Golden Eagle Scholar-Athlete Award, which recognizes
student-athletes who have made significant contributions to the athletics
program while maintaining a minimum of a 3.0 grade point average. She is also a
two-time Big Sky All-Academic selection.
More recently, Patton has been recognized for
her balanced excellence, having received last year’s Merrill and Rhoda Abeshaus
Basketball Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded to the most successful
student-athlete in academics, athletics, and community service. Patton is the
first female player to receive it since the award’s inception.
“They’ve always given the award to men’s
players,” Patton says. “So when I found out I was the first women’s basketball
player here to receive the award, it was really an honor. It was great to receive an award
for academics and participation in the community during my college career.”
Focusing on the future
Patton believes the time-management skills she
has developed and the relationships she forged during her time as a
student-athlete will help her build a successful future.
“In basketball, you learn how to work with a
group of people in a team setting,” Patton says. “You meet a lot of new people,
you get to travel, and you learn how to manage your time. I think the biggest lessons I’ll take away
from basketball are learning how to work with people and how to be a team
Patton’s long-term goal of working for the
marketing department of an athletic corporation keeps her motivated amid a busy
schedule. As she pursues that goal, she is thankful for the support system she
has found at the university: those around her who, she says, have never let her
“Basketball takes a lot of time, and being a
full-time student does, too,” Patton says.
“The classes, my teachers, and my teammates have been really great. It’s
been challenging, but I use that as motivation to move forward.”