Collegiate athletics are, by their very nature, cyclical. With nine upperclassmen on the team this year, there is no doubt that the Racer women’s basketball team needs new players to keep the team moving forward.
Freshman guard Erica Sisk is just such a player, and has already made an impact with the opening game still to come.
Sisk is one of four freshmen on the roster and was heavily scouted by colleges after leading Oxford High School to a 33-0 season and an appearance in three consecutive state tournaments.
Averaging 23 points, six steals and 5.1 assists in her high school career, Sisk long showed potential for a future in the NCAA.
Sisk said basketball has been a part of her life for 14 years, thanks, in large part, to the support from her dad.
“We used to just play around in the back yard,” she said. “Then I started playing organized basketball for Upward’s Christian league. My dad was my coach, and he made his own all-star team that traveled. Ever since then I haven’t stopped.”
Sisk was involved in multiple sports growing up, also playing softball and running track, but she said she took basketball the most seriously.
Even though basketball was her main focus, she was also a decorated track and field athlete, winning the state championship in triple jump, three invitations to nationals and the winner of the 2012 Gatorade Girl’s Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
“My dad really pushed me,” she said. “I put a lot of effort and work into basketball, so I just never wanted to give it up. I originally wasn’t going to run track, but my middle school coach wouldn’t let us play basketball if we didn’t run, but she really helped me train as a runner, too. That’s how I was successful in high school.”
“I told my mom one day that I was going to play for MSU after thinking about it for a while,” she said. “It’s a great school, and there’s a good chance my sister could come here. We’re really close. It’s a good opportunity to play with her for four years.”
Sisk said she ultimately decided to play for Murray State when she found out her younger sister could become a Racer and play alongside her next season.
The transition from high school to college can be tough for athletes, as they must adjust to college life just as any freshman. Additionally, they also have to adjust to their teammates, coaches and a new role on a different team. Sisk said the transition period has been difficult for many different reasons.
“It’s not too bad because I’m only a few hours away from home,” she said. “But it is really different. I used to not have to really do anything, but now I have to study more and work hard. I sleep all the time because I’m always tired. Things have changed, but it’ll be a good year.”
Sisk said moving on to her college career has been a challenge because she earned numerous honors and titles in high school. She said all the success she experienced in high school doesn’t matter once you are a brand new player on a college team.
“You just want to stay,” she said. “You’re so good and you have so many accomplishments. When you come in here new, half the things you thought you knew are gone. You have to start completely over. You have to be taught new things. You thought you knew everything, but you don’t.”
Sisk will be making her debut as a Racer Nov. 9 against Western Kentucky. She said she is a little nervous, but has to remember to focus and put what she already knows into perspective.
“I just have to play how I practice,” she said. “I’m not too nervous, but I just want to come in and bring as much as I can into this program. I want to be the best I can be for both myself and my team.”
Head Coach Rob Cross announced Sisk’s arrival to the program last spring and said he was excited about what she could bring to the table. Now that she’s practicing with the team, he said he is impressed and she is playing better than he expected.
“She’s a phenomenal athlete,” he said. “She’s a little bit better of a perimeter shooter than I thought she would be, and usually the transition for freshmen is difficult. They have to understand the game and get adjusted, but she picks things up very well. I’m very pleased. Her personality is very outgoing and she’s starting to make that transition where she brings that to the court with her.”
Cross believes Sisk’s personality and skill already make her an impactful player and potential game changer. He said if the first game were today, Sisk would play a large role and see significant playing time.
“She provides the same athletic ability that a lot of our fans saw out of Erica Burgess last year,” he said. “We’re very excited about what she can do defensively. She can wreak havoc on the opposition. It’s a lot to put on a freshman, but she can handle things speeding up during a game.”
Sisk has high expectations to live up to in her time at Murray State, but her coaches and teammates have faith in her ability and personality while Sisk remains excited for the new opportunity to be a Racer.
Story by Carly Besser, Staff writer