Former Honesdale hoops standout now stars at Marywood
Natasha Hessling was the heart and soul of Honesdale's girls basketball program when the Lady Hornets made their historic runs at districts and states.
Over the course of her four-year varsity career, the Red & Black powered their way to three District Two championships.
A power forward with the athleticism to run the floor and shoot from the perimeter, Hessling also led Honesdale to three appearances at the PIAA tournament.
The last of these saw Tasha and her teammates advance all the way to the Class AAA quarterfinals before suffering a heartbreaking overtime loss to Conrad Weiser.
“Those are some of my favorite memories,” Tasha told TWI Sports Thursday during a brief break in her busy day. “I think back on them all the time. We were all very close and a lot of us still keep in contact.”
Onward & Upward
Hessling parlayed her high school hoops success into a collegiate career, signing with Marywood University in 2015.
While Natasha likes to stop by Honesdale practices to help out this current crop of Lady Hornet cagers, she remains laser-focused on her collegiate career.
Tasha is now a senior and the unrivaled star of the Pacers women's basketball team … though in typical selfless fashion, she'd be the last one to admit it.
“The atmosphere here is really good,” she said. “It's very positive. The coaches make sure we're all ok and all on the same page. I just try to work hard and do my best every day.”
The numbers speak for themselves, though, as do all the accolades and awards that continue raining down on her.
Hessling has already been named Atlantic East Player of the Week an eye-popping seven times this year alone. She's also re-writing Marywood's hoops record book with one scintillating performance after another.
Earlier this season, Tasha became the all-time leading rebounder in school history. Last week, she broke the program's single game mark with a ridiculous 22 boards in the Pacers' 65-54 victory over Immaculata.
“Honestly, I try not to think about that stuff too much,” she said. “It can become a distraction if I dwell on it. So, I just try to focus on one day at a time, one game at a time.”
Through 18 games of the 2018-19 season, Hessling is averaging a double-double with 13.6 points and 14.1 rebounds per contest.
And, while Marywood has struggled at times in compiling a 7-11 record, Tasha believes there's plenty of time to make up some serious ground.
“We're a good team and we're playing better all the time,” she said. “We've had some tough losses, but we always seem to bounce right back.”
This particular team is very close-knit. A change in the coaching regime after last season led to personnel losses and some obvious on-court challenges.
“We only have 10 players on our roster, so things can get interesting sometimes,” Tasha admitted. “If we get into foul trouble or a couple of us are having an off night it can be tough.”
Weather permitting, the Pacers will be back on the court Sunday at Penn College. Opening tip is set for 2 p.m. in Williamsport.
Natasha Hessling already has a boatload of basketball memories, enough to last most folks a lifetime.
More importantly, though, her off-the-court prospects are exceedingly bright. Tasha is preparing to graduate in the spring with a degree in biotechnology.
However, before plunging headlong into the workaday world, she'll return to the classroom in pursuit of her Masters.
Her end goal is to work for a company that specializes in environmental remediation. In other words, Tasha wants to devote her professional life to making the world a clearer, safer, better place.
Before embarking on that chapter of her life, however, she still has some business to attend to on Marywood's basketball court. Sadly, the end of her playing career is drawing closer and Tasha wants to savor every last moment.
“There are still seven games left in the regular season and I'm already getting sad,” she said. “I love playing basketball and I'm going to miss it so much when it's over.”
Natasha is the daughter of Bob & Marie Hessling, Honesdale.