Peterson Bound For St. Bonaventure
Despite losing her junior season, and with an uncertain senior season pending, Falconer senior Courtnee Peterson has a lot to be excited about in 2021 after announcing her commitment to pursue her academic and athletic careers at St. Bonaventure University.
Andrea Gunnell has spent plenty of time watching Peterson develop into the NCAA Division I player she has become, despite not having a chance to lead the Golden Falcons for a full season as head coach.
Gunnell was slated to take over in 2020 before the season was marred by COVID-19, and served as an assistant coach under Mike Youngberg in 2019.
“I’ve worked with Courtnee since she has been in seventh grade,” Gunnell said. “She is just a player that coaches love to have. She is eager to learn, she is eager to get feedback, get constructive criticism.”
What strikes Gunnell most about Peterson is her ability to lead by example, and the positive attitude she has brought every day to the Golden Falcons during her tenure.
“She is just an athlete that meshes really well with other players,” Gunnell said. “Courtnee has always been very outgoing, and she is not shy about keeping a positive attitude. She’s always been consistently positive, even if we were down in a game, always confident that we could come back and get a rally going.”
Peterson transitioned from first base to center field, hitting above .350 in her last full season, while proving herself to be both an offensive and defensive cornerstone.
“She was just a key utility player in a few spots that we needed,” Gunnell said. “We had found an underclassmen who fit first base pretty well, and we had kind of maneuvered Courtnee out into center field because we needed somebody with a strong voice who was super-fast. That stride she has is amazing in the outfield. That second a ball is hit she reads it so well. She works really hard at practice; she works really hard in games. She goes all-out. I remember her diving for balls in the outfield. You’re not going to know if you don’t try, and if she thought she could get that ball she would be diving for the balls because she knew if she missed it there would be girls behind her backing her up.”
The normal recruitment process was thrown for a loop with the onset of COVID-19, forcing college scouts to rely more heavily on statistics from previous years as well as travel programs.
“I think it was a lot of pressure, because you didn’t have last year’s stats to go on. Girls in their junior year are trying to get the best stats they can get,” Gunnell said. “I think having to rely on ninth and 10th-grade stats and then travel leagues — travel can be a whole different ballgame (because) entirely different types of girls play that. I think it was just a lot of pressure for schools to look back at how players were historically. There is a lot of summer communication, I think, and talking to her travel coach. At least she was able to play some travel ball and get some stats that way and get some scouting done.”
Despite the unprecedented circumstances, Peterson has a bright future ahead of her, as do the Golden Falcons.
“We’ve been working really hard to kind of build our softball program back up,” Gunnell said. “I think the program is finally up to what it was back in 2010-2011-2012. I think it is starting to come full circle again.”