116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — True freshman Annika Headington found her place within the starting lineup for the Mount Mercy women’s basketball team.
“I knew coming in that it was a program that was rebuilding and (Coach Tim Schuring) told me if I put in the work, I could earn some backup minutes,” Headington said. “He wasn’t just going to throw me in because I’m a freshman and that wouldn’t be good for the team. He was happy with the way I performed when I got in and that’s how I ended up starting.”
Mount Mercy (13-16, 10-8) hosts Grand View at 2 p.m. Saturday inside the Hennessey Rec Center with Headington making her 28th consecutive start for the Mustangs while averaging 8.2 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.3 steals per game.
The former Waukon prep who graduated last spring as a state champion in shot put and with the majority of the career and single-season softball hitting records in her name, considers herself a “sportaholic” who played volleyball, cross country, basketball, track and field and softball over her four years at Waukon. She also played eight years of football before stopping before ninth grade.
“I loved it because sometimes girls are referred to as soft,” Headington said. “Football was a sport where they didn’t want to get shown up, so they hit me just as hard and I got to do the same.”
Along with finding her place as an athlete, Headington the student is leaning toward becoming a physical therapist once she completes her degree in exercise science.
“I’m not 100 percent sure but with all of my injuries I experienced, and the impact the physical therapists had on me,” Headington said. “I want to give back and help kids rehab and get back to the sports the way athletic trainers did for me.”
Headington dealt with injuries ranging from a stress fracture in her foot in eighth grade to missing eight games her senior year with a torn rotator cuff, not to mention a concussion and a torn ligament mixed in during her career.
Attempting to integrate into her new home in Cedar Rapids, Headington appreciates the love she continues to receive from her hometown.
“It means a lot that I still have old teammates and community members watching from home,” Headington said. “At first I was the shy, baby freshman who was scared to do anything wrong. Once I got to know my teammates, it was easier to blend in and know what I’m supposed to be doing and leading the team.”
The Mount Mercy men follow the women with a 4 p.m. tipoff with Grand View. Both teams are holding Senior Day.
Elsewhere in town, Kirkwood hosts its Hall of Fame weekend at Johnson Hall while recognizing three new members (Lu Ann Campbell Schlafke, Desiree Francis and John M. Lewis). The women tip off against Northeast Community College at 1 p.m. with the men following at 3:30 p.m.