This edition of Five Questions is with Sonya Potthoff. Sonya recently committed to NIACC after completing season with Minnesota Comets 2023 Elite Metro and will be a Senior at Mahtomedi High School (MN). Thanks for your time Sonya!
1) First, we'll start with the news, you have verballed to NIACC. Congratulations! What were some of the reasons you chose to head to Mason City and play for Coach Vaught?
First I want to start by thanking you for the congratulations & for everything you do for girls basketball, it’s greatly appreciated. A huge part of why I chose to attend NIACC is because everyone I met on campus was so supportive of my family and I. Family means a lot to me and when coach Vaught kept mentioning how convenient it would be for my parents to watch me play during the week that was hard to pass up. The distance from home I feel is a good start too. The campus had a great vibe with great scenery as well when my dad and I visited. I also believe the program is on the rise and I want to be a part of the momentum. I believe the JUCO route was the best option for me too just with players getting covid years and with the transfer portal getting popular. I really didn’t want to settle somewhere, I wanted more time to get exposure to more schools. Coach Vaught is invested with my future as well & is so complimentary of my game and what he’s done for players is incredible and something I want to experience. He also watched a lot of my games this past AAU season, which showed how invested he was in me. All in all, it was too great of an opportunity to pass up.
2) You wrapped up your club season this year with Minnesota Comets 2023 Elite Metro and Coach Barry Peterson. What were some of your favorite memories, not only from this club season, but any club season you played?
AAU is the best time of the year in my opinion. The competition makes you & your teammates more connected. This past season we played the Southern Minnesota Fury team and we beat them twice but, the last game we played them we all connected and made it a real fun and high energy game. We didn’t start off our season as great as we wanted but, Coach Barry told us to trust the plan. Then we play against one of my high school coaches team and we won Mill City in our divsion which was super fun too. Off the court, when I played under Matt Pryor for North Tartan my team started this tradition when we went out to eat we told the waiter it was Coach Pryors birthday and when he got his dessert, the whole team was laughing so hard because he was so confused and annoyed with us. We did it to him twice and the second time he was laughing and gave us the dessert. I took that to my Comets team and Coach Barry was pretty funny about the fake birthday dessert too. During one of our last practices we stopped early to go get ice cream as a team at Nelsons in Stillwater and they give you a lot so it was pretty funny how much we got because really none of us wanted that much ice cream after working out. Overall, AAU was one of the best times in my life so far and there’s a lot of memories I won’t forget from that chapter.
3) Looking back on a ton of basketball already in your career, what are some of your favorite gyms you've ever played in, and are there a couple of gyms you haven't played in yet that you would like to?
One of my favorite gyms I’ve played in is the Lynx practice facility. I went there when I was in 6th grade for the WNBA All-Star weekend and it was super fun to play with the players and where they practice. Another gym, was actually the St.Bens fieldhouse. My high school team played there a couple weekends ago and the vibe in there from the Pacesetter Sweet Sixteen tournament was unreal. It was a great place to hold a high school tournament. The All Iowa attack fieldhouse was my favorite place to play for AAU. The setup is really cool and going into tournaments there we always played some really good teams and had some fun games. My favorite at the moment is my 9th grade coaches, Chris Hergenraders gym. It was built this past year and it’s perfect. There’s a shooting machine and it’s basically a half court but it’s my go to. The biggest goal is to play in “The Barn” the University of Minnesota gym, I really hope my team is able to play in there this season. All the state qualified teams have the opportunity to play there and I want my team to have that opportunity. I’ve seen some players like LeBron or Russell Westbrook train in a gym that overlooks a city, not sure what’s it called but it looks super cool. Even an outdoor court along a beach would be super fun to hoop at. A gym with scenery is always a fun place to workout.
4) You were the leading scorer on a very balanced Mahtomedi team that picked up 19 wins last year. What are some of your personal and team goals for your Senior season with the Zephyrs?
My goal this year is to lead my team to state. I want to push everyone to become their best and make some noise this season. No matter if it’s points, assists, rebounds or defense I really just want to make it to state and take care of business from there. We have a very talented offensive team as a group but, I really want our team to be an all around hard team to compete against. I think we took major strides last season with winning conference but, that’s not enough to me. I believe my biggest goal is to improve my defense, Coach Zizzo said to me “it starts on defense, your defense will create offense.” That’s what really got me going last season was the idea that my defense needs to be a priority because if it’s not then I’m letting my team down. As a team repeating our conference placement and winning our section are our goals but, I know our goal is to take care of last seasons unfinished business.
5) When you're not playing basketball, or your other sport at Mahtomedi, tennis, what are some of your favorite activities when you have free time?
Activities are always interesting to find when most of my time is taken with basketball, tennis or lifting. Recently, I really got into reading I almost prefer it to watching TV. I love shopping, especially thrifting when I’m able to go with friends or family. I volunteer a lot with NHS through my church or running kids basketball clinics. I love going to get desserts like Crumbl Cookies or ice cream with my friends. I’ve been really into movies recently, my personal favorite is the Elvis movie out now. I am planning to run track this year with no AAU in the spring. Not exactly sure which events but, probably a little of everything with running, throwing and jumping. Those are some of my favorite activities to do in my free time!