Wallenpaupack Area's girls varsity basketball team benefits from Irene's presence.

Quiet is a word no one, who's spent any time around her, would likely use to describe Wallenpaupack Area's Irene Dispenza.

She's a fast-talking teenager who generally has a lot to say and isn't shy about giving you her honest opinion.

For the past two seasons she's been recognized by her teammates for her leadership abilities on the JV basketball court.

And, as a sophomore, she edged her way into frequent starts in goal for the varsity soccer squad.

Now a junior, Dispenza seems to have stepped out of the shadows.

Center Stage

This past fall, Irene was an integral part of the success of the girls soccer team.

In 20 games, she let by only 16 goals while making 67 saves to account for 12 of the Lady Bucks' 13 total shutouts.

Now that basketball season has rolled around, she's starting to stir again. In just two games, she's already surpassed her varsity totals for last year.

As a sophomore, Dispenza spent most of her time as a JV player but dressed for nearly every varsity game and sat deep in the Lady Buckhorns rotation. This year she's starting.

Most of her varsity hardwood time last year came at the end of runaway games or quick stints here and there when an upperclass player needed a moment or two to shake off a bad hit or cool down.

Don't expect to see her do much sitting this season. She's already matched her 11 field goals from last season and having dropped in 4-of-5 from the line, she's put herself one point past her total from last year.

That sort of shooting makes her the number-two scorer on the team.

While it's still very early in the season, there's no reason to think Dispenza's scoring will drop off.

Other starters may begin to turn up their own heat and surpass her on an average night, but undoubtedly she'll be putting up numbers steadily all season.


"There's definitely more pressure this year than last year," Dispenza admits.

"I wasn't used to playing with the varsity team last year but now I'm very comfortable."

All five of the current starters for the Lady Bucks were also starters for the soccer team, and two of them, like Dispenza, also play softball.

This, she points out, helps immensely with communication and even just being able to read the other players on her team.

Friendship and ease can only take you so far. Skills have to be there, too.

Through much of the practice season Dispenza has been putting in extra time taking shots from all over the court to broaden her striking zone.

According to head coach Adam Holtzer, all that hard work is paying off.

"Irene is the kind of player that is going to be all over the court," stated the Lady Bucks skipper.

"If there's a long rebound, she's going for it and she'll beat you there. She's really discovered she can shoot from anywhere. She's got a twelve foot jump shot and she's great defensively as well."

Big Picture

Ultimately though, one's own self confidence will largely determine how successful one is on the court, field, or diamond.

"You've got to believe in yourself," Dispenza declared.

That attitude certainly has been noticed by the coaches.

"Irene's coming into her own this year," Holtzer concluded, "She's out there because she believes she belongs out there."