HELENA — Helena High's Vanessa Walsh vividly recalls telling her father she would someday play collegiate basketball.

At that time as a youngster, Walsh still had a long way to realize her dream of playing collegiate athletics, which came true when she signed with Montana Tech on Wednesday afternoon at Helena High.

The running goal in the family is that her and her younger sister may both play college basketball on the same team.

All of those goals are one step closer to coming to fruition as Walsh, a member of all of the Class AA three-time state champions, will now be a member of the Orediggers starting in the 2019-2020 season.

Walsh, a three-sport athlete, excelled in softball, basketball and volleyball and had options to play at the college level in two of the sports she participated in. She also received an offer from the University of Providence softball program.

Opting to play basketball, and citing the sport of basketball as her favorite, she is also going to Tech because of the educational opportunities in both the medical and elementary education fields they offer, Walsh said.

"I went to Tech, and my whole family went to Tech but I said to myself 'no, I am not going to follow in my family tradition,' Walsh said. "It was also a big dilemma to choose between basketball and softball."

Though Walsh wanted to follow her own path, she said she was blown away with the opportunities Tech offered during one of her visits.

"I know they have an outstanding biology and science program, and they are one of the top schools in the nation and that made a huge impact," Walsh said. "I am also working into looking at possibilities in the medical field, and talked to one of the biology professors there. I was blown away at of the opportunities they had (related to that field.)."

Walsh was instrumental in the last three Helena sate championships, particularly last season.

"I think it's unbelievable the athletes Helena High has produced," Walsh said. "(Helena) coach (Eric Peterson) has come through the program, and continues to play basketball, and is a multi-sport athlete, and the amount of effort Coach P puts into the game with us, is something that we can take away for the rest of our lives."

Walsh has been friends with Helena Capital girls basketball player Emily Kidder since the sixth grade and will join her at Tech.

"I think my goal for the first season in college is to see as much improvement in myself, and I am excited to have Emily there just because I have known her for so long," Walsh said. "I am also good friends with Haley Crawford, and I am excited to be able to play with her again.

Peterson said he knows Walsh will have a successful transition from high school to college athletics.

"Vanessa is the epitome of the student-athlete we promote at Helena High," Peterson said. "The work ethic and time management skills it takes to be an honor student and all-conference player is not something that most can handle, but Vanessa makes it look effortless. Vanessa has worked extremely hard to become a major contributor to our program. She came in as a freshman with some bad habits, and was very coachable. She turned into one of our most fundamentally sound players."

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Jason Blasco is the lead prep sports reporter for the Helena Indepedent-Record and a sports reporter for the 406mtsports.com network.

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