Liz Eaton is no stranger to Cougar basketball. The freshman guard has big shoes to fill.
Eaton’s sister Lexi Rydalch was named WCC Player of the Year last season, holds the record for all-time leading scoring in WCC history and finished as the second all-time scorer at BYU with 2,535 career points. Beyond collegiate success, she was also selected 26th in the WNBA draft by the Seattle Storm in April 2016.
While her sister’s accomplishments may create pressure to perform, Eaton said she uses it as motivation.
“You can always channel pressure in the right way,” Eaton said.
The comparison between the two sisters began back in high school with Eaton and Rydalch attending rival schools, Mapleton Mountain and Springville. Eaton said there was always trash talking, even amongst the fans.
“One time I kept missing my free throws against Springville and the crowd kept cheering ‘We want Lexi’,” Eaton said. “I’m like ‘I want her too. Maybe she’ll make a free throw.'”
Once Eaton arrived on BYU campus, she still had plenty of obstacles to overcome.
Due to an ACL tear, Eaton was unable to train in the offseason and hasn’t played many minutes for the Cougars.
However, she’s been able to contribute to the team on and off the court.
Eaton is one of the team’s most vocal cheerleaders, motivating her teammates from the sidelines and in practice.
“She’ll push us because she’s such a driving force and isn’t afraid,” senior teammate Kristine Nielson said.
Head coach Jeff Judkins said it’s tough to predict how Eaton will impact the team this season, but he is impressed with how quickly she’s recovered from her ACL injury.
He’s hopeful Eaton will be playing “her best basketball” in the new year.
Eaton has a long way to go in filling her big sister’s shoes, but the Maple Mountain High School product has plenty of game.
“I averaged a double-double my senior year,” Eaton said. “Maybe I’m not going to get that great here, but I want to (duplicate) what I was able to achieve in high school.”
She also wants to step out of her sister’s shadow and break her records during her four years at BYU with Rydalch cheering her on.
“I hope to break her (scoring) record here,” Eaton said. “She wants me to break it, too.”