If Allison Weidner wanted to go anywhere on her family’s farm growing up, walking to her destination wasn’t an option.
Her dad always made her run. That, and growing up with two brothers in Humphrey, Nebraska, have influenced the player she aims to be for Nebraska’s women’s basketball team.
“I always wanted to be better than my older brothers,” Weidner said. “I’m just competitive. I want to be the dog on the court.”
The label of a hard-working competitor is sometimes viewed as cliché in sports, but she’s not the only one who feels that she embodies it. Head coach Amy Williams said that the team filled out a survey in which one of the questions was identifying who the hardest worker on the team was. Weidner got more votes than anyone else, according to Williams.
“She works her tail off,” Williams said. “She has worked really hard to become a more consistent 3-point shooter and really expand her game there but she’s gonna play hard on both ends of the court and is somebody that I think is really competitive and expects to win, and that’s a great thing to have in your lineup.”
The now-sophomore guard played in every game in her true freshman season at Nebraska, averaging 7.2 points per game along with 3.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists. She said she learned to play with confidence after being nervous in the team’s first few games, something that was helped by not only just playing in more games but also meeting with the school’s sports psychologists.
For most of the season, Weidner served as one of the first players off the bench, recording anywhere between 10 and 20 minutes each contest. Then, after Nebraska beat Indiana, starting guard Ashley Scoggin didn’t play in a loss to Penn State and the team announced soon after that she had been removed from the team.
With Scoggin’s dismissal, Weidner entered the starting lineup for the rest of the season.
“I was really excited, mainly because of coming in as a freshman, I didn’t know what my role would be,” she said. “It’s always been my dream since I’ve been a child to play for Nebraska and to be an impact freshman and earning that starting spot towards the end of the year, just everything came full circle and it was a dream come true.”
In the game against Penn State, she had seven points on poor shooting and four turnovers, but added eight rebounds and six assists. The next game, she scored a season-high 23 points against Minnesota. Weidner had another double-digit outing in the team’s Big Ten Tournament win over Michigan, scoring 16 points and coming up with a few clutch plays late.
An assumed starter after the end to last year and a start in the exhibition last week, Weidner said that nothing is set in stone and she’s still working to earn that place. But she also said she feels comfortable being one of the first five and wants to further grow her game heading into this season.
She’s had that motivation all offseason, but it was enhanced when Sam Haiby was announced to be out for an extended period of time due to injury. Weidner wants to step up to help lead the team without the fifth-year guard on the court.
Haiby will glady help her with that. Her and Weidner have built up a strong relationship, and Williams said at Big Ten Media Days that her two guards got together to discuss how Weidner could elevate her game.
Weidner said she, like other members of the team, cried when she first learned of Haiby’s injury, and nearly cried again when she learned that it might not have been season-ending like originally thought.
“We talk all the time. Sometimes it’s video games together,” Weidner said. “She’s definitely my go-to and she’s the first I lean on and look for all the time and when she’s on the bench. She’s got a lot of words of encouragement and things that help me and she’s definitely just pretty solid for me to have.”
Nebraska’s season starts Monday, and Weidner looks to make an impact alongside established starters like Jaz Shelley, Alexis Markowski and Isabelle Bourne. Haiby might re-enter the lineup eventually, but in the meantime, the team will still be focused on its main goal.
“Our motto this year, you know, last year we were compete and connect, and obviously we still do that but we’re also talking about expecting more because we want to go farther than we did last year,” Weidner said. “We know that we can compete for a Big Ten championship, but we just got to do the right things.”