Dreaming On, Despite Doubters
West Wendover basketball coach instills life lessons in her players
By Dianna Troyer
Do not let others diminish your dreams and goals.
West Wendover High School women’s basketball coach Danika Sharp Overturf instills that maxim in her players to motivate them on the court and long after they graduate.
She is a poster child of disproving cynics who doubted what she could accomplish as a 5-foot-9-inch shooting guard from the tiny town of West Wendover.
“There were so many who doubted me—a small-town kid—but I had a dream even before I started playing high school basketball,” she says. “I wanted to be the all-time scoring leader in Nevada.”
To reach her goal, she shot baskets for hours daily with her dad, John, as her coach. Her regimen rewarded her.
By the time she graduated from West Wendover High School, Danika had emblazoned a trifecta in the state record books. She was Nevada’s all-time leader in points (2,803), steals (525) and made free throws (667).
At the University of Nevada, Reno, Danika continued setting records.
“I’m proud of that—to be able to set some of those records at a D1 school and be in the record book—that was a huge accomplishment for me,” Danika says.
“My proudest accomplishment in college was when we beat our rival, Fresno State, on their home court when they were the No. 1 seed,” she says of the 60-54 game played in 2013. “We shocked the whole conference with that win.”
Danika says she prefers the dynamics of team sports instead of competing as an individual member of a team, such as golf or track.
“In basketball, we count on each other to get the job done,” says Danika, who graduated from UNR in 2014.
Her dazzling collegiate career compelled European professional teams to recruit her. However, an anterior cruciate ligament knee injury sidelined her.
“Playing professionally was no longer an option for me,” she says.
Instead, she was drawn to her hometown of West Wendover. In 2015, she began teaching kindergarten and coaching basketball. Her goal was to change the culture of the West Wendover girls’ basketball program and develop a competitive attitude among players.
“Most people never bat an eye when they see West Wendover girls on their schedule,” she says. “I wanted to instill a confidence in the girls here, so that teams would take us a little more seriously. I encourage girls here to know it’s possible to be something special. They can be among the best if they set their mind to it.”
She is proud of her teams’ accomplishments. In 2017, the Wolverines were the No. 3 seed in playoffs. That same year, Sydney Reamer was named the league’s most valuable player.
Sydney, 22, earned a softball scholarship at Colorado Christian University and is majoring in elementary education.
“Danika encouraged us to get out of our comfort zone and to realize there are opportunities outside our hometown,” Sydney says. “She reminded us that when disappointments happen, we should be optimistic and reassured that life will get better.”
Danika’s deep appreciation for basketball has never waned.
“I love everything about it—playing, watching, and coaching it,” she says.
With eight experienced seniors on this year’s West Wendover High School team, Danika is optimistic about the season.
“We can be very competitive,” she says. “We also have some younger girls who are talented. The team chemistry is great, and the girls work well together. After getting a couple of games under our belt and working out all the kinks, we can be one of the best teams in our league.”
After her players graduate, Danika says she hopes they will retain life lessons she has taught. They are the same values her college coach, Jane Albright, instilled in her players.
“Be your very best on and off the court no matter what,” Danika says. “Be a respectable person who is always willing to go the extra mile to help and be kind to others.”
Confront frustrations with optimism and perseverance is also one of her lessons.
“The challenges and obstacles you face in sports can help you become stronger both physically and mentally when dealing with issues later in life,” Danika says. “Sports are not always going to be there, so I try to teach them to be leaders and good role models and to rely on these traits throughout life.”
For the Record
Danika set records at the University of Nevada, Reno for the following achievements:
- #2 in steals in a single game with nine steals against Oregon.
- #3 all-time 3-point field goals made at 160 in career.
- #5 on 3-point field goals made per season at 64.
- #10 all-time free throw percentage with 81.3% on career.
- #11 all-time leading scorer with 1,082 career points.