Abby Prohaska is the type of person who doesn’t pass up on an opportunity to help someone.
It’s something you might not guess while watching her aggressive play with the No. 2-ranked Lakota West High School girls basketball team, but it’s easy to see off the court.
A couple of weeks ago, the senior guard/forward was scanning Twitter when she saw a post encouraging people to send in online Valentines to kids who will be spending the holiday at Children’s Hospital.
Most people her age who saw the same tweet probably thought, “That sounds nice,” and kept scrolling. Prohaska decided to participate and re-posted the information so others might do the same to help brighten someone’s day. The link for sending the Valentines is now in her Twitter profile.
“Someone I never met had tweeted something about Cincinnati doing this thing and it showed up in my news feed and had a lot of retweets, and I just thought it was super cool they wanted to give back to people who couldn’t be out of the hospital on Valentine’s Day,” Prohaska said. “I thought people that follow me might not have seen it, and it encouraged me to do it so I thought I could encourage others to do it. It’s just a really cool opportunity for people who haven’t been involved in things to give back to kids in the hospital.”
Prohaska has no connection to Children’s and doesn’t know anyone specifically in the hospital right now.
She loves working with kids, but outside of helping out at the Firebirds’ summer camps, her basketball commitments leave little time for volunteer work. Sending cards, which the hospital then prints out, was a simple way to help others.
It takes a deeper look to notice that caring personality does in fact shine through on the court, as well.
According to teammates, Prohaska, who signed in November to play at Notre Dame, is one of the first to pat the back of a disappointed player and offer a word of encouragement. And she never hesitates to extend a hand to help a fallen opponent up from the floor.
Even as she prepares to wrap up her high school career, her focus is on trying to make her teammates better. The fact she leads West (20-2) in almost every major statistical category — with 15.0 points, 3.1 assists and 4.4 steals per game — is just a product of what coach Andy Fishman describes as her “relentless” play, rather than attempting to accomplish individual goals that were set forth for her at the beginning of the year.
“We talked about goals, but I haven’t paid attention to that,” Prohaska said. “My focus is on encouraging my teammates and making sure we play better than the past and that we get better before the postseason.”
Prohaska is at her best this season, though. She said it’s been easier to relax and just play since sealing her college fate during the early signing period, but a lot of it has to do with the ability to stay on the court. After two injury-plagued seasons, she hasn’t missed a game as a senior.
“That was a goal we talked about at the beginning of the season,” Prohaska said. “Freshman year was the last time I made it through a season without injuries, so I needed to just play smarter with my body. I fall on the ground hard sometimes, sacrificing my body and not being as smart. I still do it, just not as hard.”
As aggressively as she dives for loose balls, Prohaska is working to finish off her career the same way it started – with a state championship. She is one of three current seniors who appeared in West’s first title to cap the 2014-15 season, and the top-seeded Firebirds begin their quest for another one as the postseason tips off Wednesday in the sectional tournament against Withrow at Lakota East.
West, which is coming off a loss to Mason on Saturday, has ended the last two seasons in the regional tournament.
“Me, Sarah (Jones) and Mads (Madisyn Oxley) were the three freshmen who were able to play on the state team and we’ve dreamt of it since we walked off the court that year,” Prohaska said. “I’m hoping with the way we’re playing and focusing on little things we can repeat that and go out the way we came in. That would be awesome.”