By Laura Amato
There was a moment last week when Danielle Patterson just closed her eyes and let it all sink in.
The Mary Louis Academy basketball star spent the final week of March in Chicago, competing in the McDonald’s All-American game, but the one moment she won’t ever forget didn’t happen on the court. It happened before tipoff at an area Ronald McDonald House and in that moment, it all seemed to come full circle for Patterson.
“I met this one girl and she must have been 5 or 6 years old,” Patterson said. “She loved basketball and I was looking back at her and I was like, wow, that was me. I think that was kind of just a wow moment to see where I was started and how I started playing basketball – I could barely dribble. Now I’m an All-American.”
Patterson’s basketball journey has been a long one, winding and challenging, but she wouldn’t trade a single second of it for anything else. Her All-American moment was proof that she’s spent her career doing everything right to this point.
“When I was a little kid, you never think about anything like that,” Patterson said. “You’re playing just to play because you like it. Then, I think, as you get older and playing AAU and understanding the magnitude of it and the scholarship possibilities, you understand the importance of it. You know how far you can”
Patterson saw time playing during the game and she relished the opportunity to showcase her talent on the national stage against the best the sport has to offer at the high school level.
She might not have been considering those few days when she first started playing, but Patterson made sure she didn’t waste them once they arrived.
“Your work paid off, all those days in the gym that you’ve spent kind of paying off,” she said. “It was a really different experience, playing in that game and against all the other top players. You don’t get to do that very often.”
Patterson did her best to stay focused when she stepped onto the court at the United Center – she’s a competitor at heart and she wanted to play her best game – but she’s also quick to admit that the scene was just a bit overwhelming.
After all, it’s not every day you get to play in front of an arena filled with fans – including LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. It was also, Patterson hopes, a glimpse into her not-too-distant future.
“You’re used to playing in a small high school gym and then you finally get on the court and you’re looking around and it’s an arena,” said Patterson, who will head to Notre Dame next season. “You see all the media and people sitting there and you know, in college, in a couple of months, this is going to be the norm.”
It was a whirlwind few days in the Windy City, but Patterson is thankful for the challenge. She’s doing what she loves and while there’s still plenty to come, she’s willing to take a few moments and reflect on these memories.
“It all kind of happened in the blink of an eye,” Patterson said. “I still remember coming to Mary Louis and having all that hype and now to done what I’ve done it’s been so good.”