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Peyton Fenner’s talents go beyond court for Naperville North

Peyton Fenner thought hard before making the decision.

The Naperville North forward has places to go and things she wants to do. Playing college basketball will not be one of them.

That might come as a surprise to people who see Fenner’s obvious talent, which is ample enough for her to play at the next level, as fellow seniors Layla Henderson (Johns Hopkins), Abby Drendel (McKendree) and Abby Homan (Pomona) will do .

“I did want to play (in college) for a long time,” Fenner said. “But there were other things that I really want to focus on in college. I really want to be able to focus on academics, try to figure out what I want to do.”

Fenner hasn’t picked a college, but the honor roll student will have plenty of options, just as she has an array of talents that go far beyond the basketball court.

“I think I want to study writing because it kind of feeds into a lot of different things I’m interested in,” Fenner said. “I want to work on fiction like screenplays but also songwriting.”

While she wants to write songs, Fenner also can sing them. She’s been taking voice since lessons she was 7.

“We have heard her sing, and she’s definitely got talent,” Naperville North coach Erin Colletti said. “I didn’t know this about her until maybe a year and a half ago that she was taking vocal lessons outside of school.

“She’s just a well-rounded individual. She’s got her creative, artistic side, and then she’s got her athletic side as well.”

Not many people know about Fenner’s artistic side. She doesn’t sing in the school choir or write for the school newspaper, although it’s not because she isn’t interested. Basketball and academics fill their schedule.

“I don’t have time, with the weightlifting and training, but I practice (singing) once a week and work on classical and opera,” Fenner said. “But I do that all on my own in season.

“That is also a huge commitment. It takes a lot of preparation and experience, so we’ll see how that goes.”

Everything is going well for Fenner in and out of the classroom, but she doesn’t have much free time during the season.

“I’m taking a pretty big course load, so I go to practice, I go home, I do homework and I go to bed,” Fenner said. “I’m not really involved in anything besides basketball.”

On the court, the 5-foot-11 Fenner is involved in everything. She began her fourth varsity season on Saturday by racking up 16 points, 13 rebounds, four steals and an assist as the Huskies beat Romeoville 65-44 at the WarHawk Tournament at Waubonsie Valley.

It was the beginning of a new era for the Huskies, who no longer have a dominant star player like Greta Kampschroeder or Kenzie Hare to rely on as they have in recent years.

“We’re all trying to step up every game with whatever it requires,” Fenner said. “That’s definitely what I’m doing. A focal point for the whole season will be rebounding and trying to get to the basket.”

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Henderson, who scored a team-high 19 points against Romeoville, said she’s happy to see Fenner playing freely.

“Peyton is such an important person to me,” Henderson said. “It’s been very interesting to watch her develop over the last four years. I feel like (not playing in college) is definitely the right decision for her because she’s playing a lot freer.”

The serious-minded Fenner put most of the pressure on herself, but she’s embracing every moment of her last season.

“I just want to put it all out on the floor, and I have a desire to really step up for the team,” she said. “It does make it a little bit more special.”

Colletti said she’s happy to see Fenner playing carefree.

“She’s still an insane competitor, which I love,” Colletti said. “She will hold her teammates accountable. She’s a great leader out there, and she’s fully embracing it, so I just love to see the confidence that she has.”

Matt Le Cren is a freelance reporter for the Naperville Sun.

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