By Laura Amato
Danielle Patterson was taking everything in stride – until she noticed the cookies with her face on them.
The Mary Louis Academy basketball star has had a few weeks to take in the idea of being named a McDonald’s All-American, but the senior standout admitted she was just a bit overwhelmed during a ceremony honoring her achievements Monday afternoon. After all, it’s not every day your picture is on a cookie.
“It has been a lot to take in, but I’m super grateful for it all,” said Patterson, who will head to Notre Dame next year. “I’m grateful for the people I get to share it with right now – my teachers, my coaches, my parents and everyone that supports me.”
Patterson will play at the All-American game in Chicago March 29, but the ceremony at Mary Louis was a chance for her to celebrate with those closest to her. This moment had been years in the making and Patterson couldn’t seem to quite wipe the smile off her face, even after posing for several dozen photos. “I never imagined I’d be a McDonald’s All-American,” Patterson said. “I just played because I loved it and then I think after awhile I realized as I grew and got older, it just became something I was striving for.”
Patterson has been shouldering plenty of expectations this season – coming into her senior year facing a handful of questions, namely where she was going to play college hoops, but she’s done her best to stay focused. She’s well aware of her position in the Hilltoppers program and Patterson has made it her goal to step up as the leader of her team.
It hasn’t always been easy, but over the last few weeks, it’s become as simple as sinking a jumper from the post. She’s pretty good at that.
“I try to do a good job handling it,” Patterson said. “I feel like I have to be a leader for my team and I have to be a leader for the people around me. So by showing that I’m getting crazy, it won’t help them. It’s just about staying positive.”
The expectations for Patterson are still sky-high, as are her own expectations for the Hilltoppers this season. She’s well aware of what this team can do and she’s not willing to accept much less than a championship run.
She’s an All-American – and a nominee for Gatorade Player of the Year – but she’s also hungry for a title and she’s going to keep working until she achieves that as well.
“It’s finally paying off,” Patterson said. “I’m seeing that now. So I just continue to work, not getting in any way shape or form satisfied.”
Patterson has been playing basketball for years, grew up with a ball in her hands and a determination that will serve her well when she gets to Chicago next month, but for all the expectations and the accolades, she’s never once grown tired of the game.
She loves it even more than she did when she was a kid, determined to follow in her heroes footsteps with an All-American jersey draped over her shoulders.
“My mom used to constantly ask how much I love it and when I started I was like ‘Eh, it’s alright,’” Patterson said. “As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that so many legends have come out of this game and I want to make my mark and be that for other young girls coming through.”