WARREN, Pa. – As a freshman three years ago, Warren’s Riley Childress was handed the keys to the car of the Warren Lady Dragons basketball team.
Coach Lisa LaVan plugged Childress in as her starting point guard and the rest is history. Flash forward to 2021 and Childress has played an integral role in a pair of District 10 championship teams and is on the cusp of 1,000-career points.
Along the way, her natural talent, intelligence and tenaciousness on the basketball court attracted the attention of college coaches, including Kevin Clifford at Division II Roberts Wesleyan in Rochester (NY).
Ultimately, Childress decided that Roberts was the best fit for her.
“It was very stressful but it was all worth it,” Childress said of the recruiting process. “I emailed the coach and next thing we were having phone calls and he invited me to campus and I loved all the people and the team.”
Childress’ love of basketball began at a young age.
“I was four when I first started playing,” she said. “I love how competitive it is and I love the people I play with.”
That joy is evident every time she takes the court. Childress quickly established herself that freshman season, instantly becoming one of the premier defenders in District 10. Along with Margo Loutzenhiser (now playing at Gannon), fellow classmate Emma Ruhlman (who is continuing her career at Hillsdale College), her older sister Taylor and others, they won the District 10 championship that year.
Last year, they won it again, but it was long before that Childress decided she wanted to play in college.
“In 7th grade, I realized I wanted to play past the high school level from looking up at great players like Margo, Autumn (Hultberg), and DJ (Hahn).”
Along the way, Childress has had plenty of mentors both on and off the court.
“I would say Margo, Emma, my sister, and my parents,” she said of her biggest influences.
Her parents, Red and Stacey Childress, are both educators, a direction in which their youngest daughter wants to follow.
“I want to study education,” Riley said. “I’m not sure what grade yet but my parents are both teachers and they both have a great influence on others and I want to be able to impact younger children’s lives.”
There’s still her senior season to look forward to before she takes off for the next chapter of her life, and there is plenty she wants to accomplish.
“I want to get my 1,000 points, win D10 and make a run in the state playoffs,” she said.
All of those things are well within reach, and the Lady Dragons certainly enter this season with high expectations.
And once the dust settles on her time as a high schooler, Childress has her sights set on making new memories at Roberts Wesleyan.
“I’m looking forward to getting my degree, meeting new people and growing as a player and being as good as I can,” she said.