• July 13, 2020

SCHOLAR ATHLETE PRESENTED BY ODESSA COLLEGE: Alpine's Watley shines on and off the field - Odessa American: Sports

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SCHOLAR ATHLETE PRESENTED BY ODESSA COLLEGE: Alpine's Watley shines on and off the field

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Posted: Tuesday, May 26, 2020 7:30 pm

Alpine’s April Watley is used to being in the spotlight.

It was how she handled the attention that ended up being one of the biggest keys to her success as she graduates No. 7 in her graduating class of 72.

“The teachers at Alpine were very helpful. I mainly just tried to get my work done in class,” Watley said. “Whenever I was gone, I would take my work with me on the road.

“I was very fortunate because I was able to teach myself a lot of things.”

One of the biggest teaching moments came in softball during her freshman year.

In a Class 3A regional semifinal game against Brock, Watley got called into action after the Lady Eagles started to get in a good rhythm offensively.

Watley spent most of that first season on the Lady Bucks’ junior varsity and getting that opportunity was something that initially threw her off.

Before she stepped in to the circle, however, Alpine head coach Bridgette Gonzales, gave her some encouragement.

“April was a little wide-eyed and I just told her that you were made for this and it’s what you’ve worked hard for all season,” Gonzales recalled. “Now is your time to shine.”

With those words, Watley said that she was able to settle her nerves and focus. Even though the Lady Bucks fell in that game, Watley saw it as a turning point on the field.  

“It was a little frightening to go out there but I saw it as a major milestone,” she said.

She turned that experience into confidence, helping the Lady Bucks win three district titles and make another appearance in the regional semifinals in 2018.

She was also a standout on the court, earning first team all-district honors in volleyball while also running in the 4 x 100 relay.

On top of that, Watley was on the road competing in stock shows with her goats and pigs, an event she’s been a part of since third grade.

That dedication stood out in Gonzales’ mind. She coached Watley for all four years of her softball career and was recently hired as an assistant volleyball and softball coach at San Angelo Central.

“April is just phenomenal,” Gonzales said. “She’s very grown up and mature for her age. To be able to maintain a strong GPA and handle all that she had going on is really impressive. She’s a very smart girl.”

Unfortunately for Watley, she was unable to close out her career the way she wanted to due to COVID-19.

Her teammates got the word that the UIL was postponing play during the first District 3-3A game of the season. It was the last time she put on an Alpine softball uniform.

She admitted it was tough and it left her “at a loss” of what to do moving forward. That said, she does have a plan.

Watley is following in her older brother’s footsteps and will attend Texas Tech in the fall. She plans to study business and eventually open a physical therapy practice.

As Watley moves on to the next chapter of her life, she wants to use her last moments of high school as a teaching tool.

“There’s so much more out there than what you see during your time in high school,” she said. “You just have to be able to take things with a grain of salt and be able to move on.”

>> Follow Tony Venegas on Twitter at @OA_TVenegas

Odessa, TX

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