GIRLS' BASKETBALL: Stephenson signs second-generation player in DeSalvo

On hand to watch Ridgeland senior Christina DeSalvo (seated, center) sign on to play basketball with Georgia Northwestern were parents Mike and Crystal DeSalvo and younger sister Hannah DeSalvo, Georgia Northwestern head coach David Stephenson and Ridgeland head coach Ryan Pipes. (Messenger photo/Scott Herpst)

Georgia Northwestern head basketball coach David Stephenson has coached hundreds of players over the years, but he’s never before coached the son or daughter of a former player.

But that’s about to change.

Ridgeland senior Christina DeSalvo signed with the Lady Bobcats last week, meaning she will play for the same coach that her father, Mike, played for nearly two decades ago.

“It makes me feel really old,” Stephenson lamented. “(Mike) played for us for four years at North Georgia Christian and graduated in 1999. He was an incredibly talented person for us and a real gym rat. I can remember when he told me he was going to have a little girl and now she’s going to be playing for us so I’m excited.”

Christina expressed similar sentiments.

“It’s a great feeling,” she said. “(Coach Stephenson) taught my dad, who was a great player and, hopefully, I can follow in his footsteps. (Signing to play in college) just means the world to me because I’ve been playing since I was little and I’m glad to keep getting to play.”

DeSalvo played extensive varsity minutes in all four years for the Lady Panthers. She was recently named as a Walker County Dream Team Honorable Mention selection this past season.

“Christina has been great,” Ridgeland head coach Ryan Pipes. “She’s been a four-year player in our program, which is something we’re trying to emphasis because we haven’t had too many of those in the last few years. But to be committed from ninth grade all the way through to the 12th grade tells a lot about the character of a person and she is a prime example of that.

“She never missed practices or workouts. Even this summer when she was in a cast from a broken ankle, she was there every day and hating it that she couldn’t play.”

DeSalvo said she will bring positivity to her new team.

“I try to build people up and not tear then down,” she explained. “I try to push everyone to achieve to their greatest potential.”

A perimeter shooting specialist who also played in the post, Stephenson believes DeSalvo will fill a similar role for the Lady Bobcats.

 “We think she can fill a 3 or 4 spot for us,” the coach said. “She has great grades, she has great character and she’s been playing ball her whole life. She also the type of player we want in the program. She loves basketball and she’s a local kid. I think she will do a good job for us.”

DeSalvo said she wants to one day become a neonatal doctor.