YORKTOWN — When Valton Acree arrived in Yorktown as the girls basketball coach, he saw then-sophomore Katelyn Dodds as a player with a lot of fire.
Acree saw raw talent and pushed Dodds to play at a higher level.
It culminated Thursday with Dodds turning a dream into reality, by signing to play at Wayland Baptist University.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do it without Coach Acree,” Dodds said. “Making us go to the gym, making us put up shots, running us, all that work, it’s made me who I am today and the player I am today.”
Yorktown being an undersized squad, Dodds played post all three years, but will transition to guard at Wayland Baptist.
Dodds worked to become a better scorer each year, but she was also a leader of Yorktown’s defense.
“She was the one I bonded with quicker than the others,” Acree said. “ I don’t know why, we just bonded. Bottom line was she wanted to win. She just wanted to win. She’s the kid that from the time she walked in the door pretty much did what I asked of her.”
As a senior, Dodds earned first-team all-district honors averaging 8.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4 steals and 2.5 blocks per game.
Dodds helped Yorktown go undefeated in District 31-2A. The Kitty Kats went 22-1, winning 22 straight games and putting together the longest winning streak in school history in the five-man era.
“Crazy for my senior year,” Dodds said. “We were district champs in all the sports that I played, so it was a big accomplishment. Then to go on a winning streak for Coach Acree, I know we made him proud and I think that’s what makes it more of an accomplishment. To make our coaches proud and our community proud.”
Her play caught the attention of Jason Cooper, the newly named women’s basketball coach at Wayland Baptist and a friend of Acree, in June.
Cooper invited Dodds to visit the Plainview campus and it was on the trip that the history of the Flying Queens — the winningest program in women’s college basketball with over 1600 wins — sealed her commitment.
“Katelyn is coming from a program run by Coach Acree who has stressed the importance of fundamentals, teamwork and character to achieve overall team success,” Cooper said in a release. “Those are the same things we value at Wayland Baptist and in the Flying Queens program. Katelyn brings athleticism, tenacity and team spirit to our program and we are so excited to have her in the family.”
Dodds is looking forward to helping the Flying Queens reach win 1,700, but knows she will miss the close-knit community in Yorktown.
“Definitely our fans, our supportive community, the coaches, we have such close bonds with them,” Dodds said. “Just my family being able to come to all my games. Now, that I’m 8 hours away, they can’t come to everything so that’s going to be something I miss.”
Yorktown returns a number of players from the 22-win team, leaving expectations to continue the legacy they helped build.
”It’s going to be weird cause you go to a place and you get used to coaching those same three kids and now they’re not going to be there,” Acree said. “But this has been a great ride, a lot of fun, and it’s always special when you’re a coach and you have a player go on to play college basketball.”