As chronicled recently in the Daily Reporter, dozens of local high school student-athletes will soon begin their collegiate sports careers. An equally important number of local athletes will begin their next-stage education without a university sports commitment.
Morgan Stricker is one such academics-focused athlete.
Her Mt. Vernon girls basketball team appeared in two straight Class 3A State Finals, winning it all in 2012-13, Stricker’s junior season. Stricker, a reserve small forward, played one minute in the 2013 championship game.
On the softball field this spring, Stricker was more active, appearing in 23 of 26 games and hitting .268 as a first baseman.
Never an all-county team selection, Stricker earned more impressive honors: she was named All-State Academic in basketball and softball this year as a senior (the only grade in which student-athletes can earn such academic recognition).
The McCordsville native, National Honors Society member and Marauder Mentor graduated fourth in her class and received the St. Mary’s Scholarship (full tuition) from Marian University, where she’ll major in Biology with a pre-med concentration.
Stricker, daughter of Frank and Susanne Stricker, recently provided insight as to what it’s like to be an academic all-star.
Q. What’s the biggest challenge in juggling school work and athletics?
A. Managing your time. It’s tough when you don’t get home until after 10 p.m. and then still have three hours of homework. You learn to use every free minute you have wisely, even if it’s on the bumpy bus.
Q. Did athletics and being part of a sports team teach you any lessons that applied to classwork?
A. I have learned so many valuable lessons through athletics that helped me in the classroom. I learned how to cooperate in a group and communicate with my teammates. I also learned that hard work and dedication will always pay off. No matter if its school or sports, putting 100 percent effort in is the most important thing. Athletics also taught me leadership skills. I was able to take all of these lessons I learned through sports, and apply them to classwork.
Q. What advice did your parents give you over the years?
A. My parents always told me to always do my best whether it was in sports or academics. They would always say to never give up on something I wanted.
Q. Did you have a role model in basketball or softball when you were a younger player?
A. I would have to say my biggest role model when I was a freshman was Anna Olson. Coach was always telling us we all had to get tougher and Anna was definitely the toughest. She always gave it her all and I looked up to her for that. My sophomore year I got to know Anna better and realized she was hilarious and nice. She was a good leader and I wanted to learn to be a leader like her.
Q. Why are academics important to you?
A. Because they give us the knowledge to achieve our bigger goals later on. I have always had to work hard to achieve my academic goals. It didn’t come naturally so I knew I had to work hard if I wanted to succeed in my academics.
Q. You didn’t receive the most playing time in basketball or hit for the highest average in softball. Did it bother you that you weren’t the biggest star on the team?
A. No, I enjoyed playing the game and being a part of the team. We all had our roles that made the team a whole, and I knew I had to take on whatever role I was given.
Q. How did you find ways to contribute to your teams even if you weren’t doing all the scoring/hitting? In what other ways did you contribute?
A. Even when I wasn’t the star I knew I still had a job to do. Sometimes I was needed as a leader and others a helpful hand. I always tried to offer advice. For example, in softball, I would tell my teammates what pitches the pitcher was throwing after I went up to bat. I needed to help our team win in whatever way I could.
Q. Did you ever consider dropping athletics to focus solely on academics?
A. No, there was never a moment that I ever considered giving up sports in high school. I’ve played basketball and softball since I was four-years-old. I love to play the game and can’t imagine not playing in high school. My high school career was so memorable because of the sports I played. Not many people can say they went to state two years in a row or played against girls from Europe in summer league, but I can. I have athletics to thank for so many great experiences and friendships.
Editor’s note: Stricker will tryout for the Marian softball team.