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Dickinson Trinity’s Sickler signs with U-Mary

Alanna Sickler's opportunity to play college basketball came as no surprise to Dickinson Trinity's coaches. But Sickler had to convince herself that she could compete beyond high school. That process met its end this week as the Titans senior for...

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Dickinson Trinity senior Alanna Sickler signed with the University of Mary women’s basketball team on Monday. (Submitted Photo by Laura Sickler)

Alanna Sickler’s opportunity to play college basketball came as no surprise to Dickinson Trinity’s coaches.

But Sickler had to convince herself that she could compete beyond high school.

That process met its end this week as the Titans senior forward signed a letter of intent on Monday to continue her playing career at the University of Mary in Bismarck.

“At the beginning of the year, I guess I had doubts that I wouldn’t be good enough to play at a higher level,” Sickler said. “(Assistant coach) Dawn Boyd was always the one telling me not to think like that. … I always kept asking, ‘Can I really see myself not playing basketball next year?’ And the answer was always no. I think I’d have withdrawals without playing.”  

Sickler’s senior year - and general body of work over her Trinity career - put those worries to rest.

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Sickler, at 5-foot-10, led the Titans with 15.6 points per game and 9.4 rebounds per game last season and powered Trinity to a state tournament appearance.

“We’ve known that Alanna had the potential to play at the next level for a while,” Trinity head coach Carter Fong said. “I think the thing she has going for her at the next level was she fulfilled many different roles at Trinity. She came in as a role player, and she evolved every year. As a senior, she was our leading scorer, and we went to her in crunch time. She knew we would lean on her heavily.”

Sickler said she decided on the Marauders after fielding offers from Northern State, Valley City State, Concordia, Bismarck State College and Jamestown.

“Staying close to home was a deciding factor,” she said. “I chose U-Mary over the others because I wanted the private education and the opportunity to openly continue my Catholic faith.”

Sickler added that Mary offered a degree in occupational therapy, which several of the other schools did not have. She said her older brother Marcus is currently pursuing a master’s degree in the same field from the University of North Dakota.

“He would come home and talk about all his experiences and people he gets to help,” Sickler said. “It made me think that’s something I want to pursue too.”

Sickler said the process of deciding on a college was “overwhelming” at times, but she’s happy with where she has landed. She also said she’s aware of the challenges she’ll have to face as a collegiate player; namely, she’ll have to add some strength and extend her game out of the painted area.

“I need to gain some muscle, so my daily routine with workouts will be different,” she said. “And I’ve never really been a perimeter player. I’d take a few outside shots, but that wasn’t my main focus. I’ll need to gain confidence that I can make a shot somewhere else than on the block.”

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Despite the likely changes to Sickler’s game, Fong believes she won’t have any problem adjusting.

“She has the work ethic and all the tools to succeed and contribute to the University of Mary,” he said.

Sickler acknowledged that she had come a long way from having doubts about being able to play in college. Now, she’s thankful she has been given the chance.

“I am very grateful for just getting the opportunity, that so many coaches took the time to research me and watch me play,” Sickler said. “I’m grateful that I get to continue my basketball career and represent Trinity well in my years left to come.”

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