Marissa Janning blog: Introduction (it was always going to be basketball)

The 2013–14 Big East Player of the Year, and a two-time all-conference selection, Marissa Janning continues to cement her status as one of the best guards in America. One of its classiest competitors, too. She will be maintaining a blog for Alley Whoops throughout this season. Here’s the first entry.

From left: Matt, Dad, and Marissa (Courtesy of Marissa Janning)

Hey everyone, my name is Marissa Janning, and I am a senior guard on the Creighton women’s basketball team. For my first post I thought I would give you background on myself and how I got started playing basketball. I am 22 years old, from a small town called Watertown, Minnesota, which is located about 40 minutes west of Minneapolis. I grew up there with my dad, mom, sister who is six years older than me, and my brother who is five years older. I’ve had a basketball in my hands almost daily for as long as I can remember — probably once I was able to walk. My brother and dad are the ones who continue to inspire me the most throughout my basketball career.

I distinctly remember being four or five years old: there was a bad storm and the power had gone out in our house. Looking for something to do, I went out into our garage and saw my brother messing around with a basketball — one and two ball ball-handling, acting like he was being defended, or throwing the ball against the wall as if there was a hoop there. I immediately thought, “I want to do that.”

I started playing organized basketball in kindergarten with my dad, Jeff, as my coach. The first AAU team I ever played on came as a blessing that randomly happened the summer after 1st grade. My brother played for a team in Minneapolis called NC Heat, and I would go and do ball handling and shooting with my dad when a hoop wasn’t occupied or if the sideline was open. His coach, Paul Hill, noticed me playing and came and asked me to come play on his daughter’s team, which he also coached. I was so excited and said ‘Yes’ immediately, not realizing that most of these girls were 4th and 5th graders. One of them was Tayler Hill who played basketball at Ohio State and is now with the Washington Mystics.

I didn’t get to play much, but I didn’t mind because it was so much fun, and I learned a lot from such a great opportunity at a young age. Other than playing AAU and on the team in Watertown, my dad and I would play 2 v 1 against my brother in the driveway all the time. Either that or I would shoot with my brother, trying to copy whatever he did. I would get so frustrated if I couldn’t do the move he did or make the same shot, which is where I think my drive and ability to not become complacent came from. I wanted to do what he did and show him, and once I got it down, Matt or my dad noticed, and they were proud of me, which is still one of the best feelings.

The excuse “I can’t—I have basketball,” had already started when friends would ask to hang out, as it has been a part of my life ever since. Aside from basketball, I played softball for a few years, I wrestled until 4th grade, played football until 7th grade, I swam for two years, ran varsity cross country in 7th and 8th grade finishing 9th and 3rd in state, respectively, played varsity volleyball for four years, ran varsity track for six years competing in multiple events at state each year before finally winning the 4 x 800m and 300m hurdles my senior year, and played varsity basketball ever since 7th grade. I’ve always loved sports and everything that goes along with them.

In high school, I went back and forth between whether I wanted to run or play ball in college since I was getting recruited to go Division I in both. In addition to other offers, Creighton offered me a scholarship as a sophomore, and I had never even heard of them or been to Nebraska. My parents drove me down for a visit and from that point on I knew I wanted to play basketball for no one other than Coach Flanery (Flan). I committed in March of my junior year and signed that next fall. Going into my fourth year at Creighton University, there is still no other place I’d rather be, both for the prestigious education and playing for a successful program with a great tradition.

I still find the same joy and respect for the game that I did when I first started. I’ve had a lot of personal success, and success with different teams, but one of my favorite things about basketball is the relationships you build and the connections and opportunities you encounter. Throughout my posts this year you’ll read about different trips and activities that we do, which I am really excited to share with you all! Stay tuned and go Bluejays!

Game of life, with a twist—and shout. Twitter: @alleywhoops

Game of life, with a twist—and shout. Twitter: @alleywhoops