It was a long road back for Marshalltown basketball senior Paige Wertzberger.
After tearing her ACL only a couple of games into her junior season – less than a week after appearing in her first varsity action for Marshalltown girls’ basketball – she was faced with a long recovery and an uncertain future, missing the rest of the season and the entirety of softball season as well. It was during this time off due to injury that she decided she would play basketball over softball in college if given the opportunity.
Her return to the Bobcats halfway through the 2021-22 basketball season and the performances she had the rest of the year were enough to get the interest of Clarke University, a Heart of America Conference member and NAIA private university in Dubuque. Wertzberger said she went through multiple options and connected well with the Clarke coaches and players during her visits.
Wertzberger said it was a big opportunity that she was lucky to take on.
“The coaches were very nice and made it feel like home,” Wetzberger said. “I got to meet my teammates and they were all very nice.
“It feels amazing to come back off of an ACL injury, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to play again.”
In 13 games played (all coming off the bench), Wertzberger averaged 3.5 rebounds per game and scored 2.5 points per contest. Adding in 1.3 offensive rebounds per game, she provided a big impact as a post player.
While not being able to play from the start of the season, the girls’ basketball head coach Brian Murphy said it was noticeable what she brought to the Bobcats when she was on the floor.
“One of the things that makes Paige an especially effective basketball player is that she’s got things inherent to her personality that are hard to teach,” Murphy said. “She’s got a relentlessness when it comes to rebounding, she’s a very physically defensive player and those are the things that are hard to teach.”
Wertzberger also has a good idea of what she plans to do academically, and added how important her conversations with a professor in the elementary education department.
“I got to meet the head of elementary education there and talk to her about what it’s like,” Wertzberger said. “We get a lot of 1-on-1 attention with our professors since it’s a smaller school.”
After not playing high school basketball as a sophomore, Wertzberger is now headed to college to play the sport, injuries in the past and her future settled.
Murphy said it’s a testament to the effort she’s put in over the past two seasons.
“It’s really a great opportunity for her,” Murphy said. “There are a lot of things to feel good about with her story.”