Lexi Patty signing

Heritage High School basketball coach Rick Howard (back) cuts up with Lexi Patty and her parents Chris (left) and Shellie Patty (right) after she signs to play basketball at Tusculum University on Friday.

Unlike most parents, Chris and Shellie Patty probably aren’t too worried wondering whether their daughter is prepared to motivate and push herself after leaving home for college.

Lexi Patty, who signed her National Letter of Intent to play basketball at Tusculum University on Friday, has shown in her years at Heritage as a multi-sport athlete that she will push herself hard to succeed.

“I push myself a lot,” Patty told The Daily Times. “I set standards that I expect of myself, and sometimes I beat myself up a lot when I disappoint myself. I keep pushing until I break.”

Patty has excelled at both basketball and volleyball during her high school years at Heritage. During both sports seasons, the 17-year old has juggled participating in travel ball of the other sport with her play as a Lady Mountaineer.

During volleyball season, Patty left Heritage practices and headed to join the workouts of her AAU basketball squad, East Tennessee Air.

“Last year during school basketball, I was playing club volleyball,” Patty said. “We played Maryville at Maryville and then I remember driving all the way to Indianapolis for a volleyball tournament. It’s kind of hard balancing two sports, but it changes your mentality on a lot of things, too.”

Last season, Patty averaged 12 points, seven rebounds and three assists per game. In her career, in addition to 700 points, 145 steals and 182 assists, she has pulled down 371 rebounds, an amazing total for an outside player.

“(Patty) is a warrior,” Heritage coach Rick Howard said. “She hustles her butt off, and you know she’s going to give you 100 percent every time she is out on the floor.”

After considering several other interested Division II schools, Patty chose Tusculum after falling in love with the campus on her first visit.

“Right when we pulled into campus, it felt amazing,” Patty said. “It felt like that was my place to be. The coaches welcomed me, and I felt a bond with them right off the bat.”

Before she becomes a Lady Pioneer, Patty and Howard hope for another full season at Heritage. With Patty as shooting guard, fellow senior Kaitlyn Burger inside, and a deep roster of complementary talent, Heritage should cause plenty of problems for opponents.

Patty will play some point guard but will shift often to shooting guard, because of the fast development of sophomore Bekah Gardner at the point.

“Being a two-guard helps me,” Patty said. “I can drive, I can shoot, I have more options. I get more nervous when I’m running the point, but I can be more relaxed as a two-guard.”

Patty’s drive and ambition leads beyond Heritage and Tusculum. She intends to study nursing in her undergraduate studies and is determined to then enter the Air Force.

“One of my biggest dreams has always been to join the military, and I’ve always been drawn to the Air Force,” Patty said. “I’ve had this dream of getting my nursing degree then going into the Air Force for over four years now.”

The work of pushing herself to excel has been assisted, Patty quickly acknowledged, from a great supporting network.

“I’ve been through patches when I’ve been really down, but I’ve had such a great support system,” Patty said. “My coaches, my school counselors, my friends and especially my parents and family, everyone has really pushed me to get where I am today.”

Patty may even get one more push from the athletics staff once her Heritage basketball career finishes. In his opening remarks, athletic director and baseball coach Robbie Bennett mentioned that Patty is “just an athlete, a natural,” then pondered briefly on what Patty might be able to accomplish as a Lady Mountaineer softball player.

This account is used by The Daily Times freelance sports writers and for staff reports.

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