After years of summer leagues, open gyms and driveway tutorials by her father, the ultimate goal for Ally Christman was reached on Monday, as the Bishop Dwenger High School senior signed a national letter of intent to play basketball for Ferris State University next season.
“Ally does a lot of things very well,” Saints coach Dave Scudder said. “She's an exceptional shooter. When she goes to Ferris State, they are going to find out that her range is exceptional.”
The 5-foot-10 guard is averaging 18 points per game this season, but it is her versatility that really attracted the Bulldogs coaching staff.
“Ally can shoot,” Ferris State coach Colleen Lamoreaux-Tate said. “But she can also pass and defend. But I really like her demeanor on the court. She's not cocky, but she plays with confidence.”
Christman was looking at schools certainly from a basketball aspect, but there were also other factors to consider.
“I went and hung out with the team,” Christman said. “The relationship between the players and the coaches was something that really caught my eye.”
Something else that attracted Christman was the size of Ferris State. After attending a Class 3A program at Bishop Dwenger, she wasn't interested in some of the “smaller Division II” schools that were recruiting her. The main campus in Big Rapids, Mich., has nearly 10,000 students.
That enrollment, quality of the Great Lakes International Athletic Conference and history of success for the Bulldogs program have made the job of recruiting relatively smooth for first-year coach Lamoreaux-Tate.
“After 26 years of being a head coach (at Grand Rapids Catholic Central High School), I have a lot of great relationships with high school coaches,” Lamoreaux-Tate explained. “I try to be honest with the players, and recruiting really has been easier than I thought.”
Christman has been steady for the Saints on the court and classroom since her freshman season, and she plans on majoring in “either sports medicine or physical therapy.”
She has been sending game tapes to Lamoreaux-Tate, who has already been evaluating them and offering advice.
Like Lamoreaux-Tate, Scudder is a veteran coach (31 years with the Saints), and he has complete confidence in Christman's ability to make a smooth transition to the next level.
“Up there she is going to get with kids that are probably, hopefully, as good if not better than she is,” Scudder said. “She's going to fit in very well and be very successful up there.”
Saints to contribute on the diamond
A pair of Bishop Dwenger softball players also made their college selections Monday.
Utility infielder Erica Miller signed to play at Marian University, while Julie Bazur will stay close to home and play for Indiana Tech.
“Julie is a hitter,” Warrior coach Becky Norris said. “She is definitely a hitter. She can hit to all fields, she's a power hitter, she can drive the ball and put it in play when necessary.”
The outfielder has been a member of the Saints through a state championship (2010), as well as SAC title-winning squads (2010 and 2011). She was named as the Saints' Defensive Player of the Year last spring, as well as ranking among the Fort Wayne-area leaders in RBIs.
“I visited Indiana Tech and I loved the school,” Bazur said. “I got to practice with the girls and that was a great experience.”
It was during that run to the 2010 state championship that Marian coach Scott Fleming discovered Miller.
“She is very versatile,” Fleming said. “Erica hits the ball very well and has good speed. She's an all-around good ball player.”
Along with Bazur, Miller served as a team captain as a junior, was the Defensive Most Valuable Player as a sophomore and was the team MVP last spring.
“I visited Marian last winter and it's a great campus, it's beautiful,” Miller said. “I've known that I was going to go there for about a year.”