CENTENARY, Ohio — Another work in progress.
Gallia Academy senior Macey Siders faces a very similar situation over the next four years after agreeing to be part of the University of Rio Grande women’s basketball program during a Thursday, May 4, signing at the GAHS library in Gallia County.
Siders — a 5-foot-9 forward — spent most of the first two years of her prep career building her game at the junior varsity level before having that hard work rewarded with a pair of varsity letters at the tail-end of her Blue Angels’ days.
Siders was never recognized as one of the dominant players during her tenure with the Blue and White, producing only 59 points, 80 rebounds and 16 assists during her two seasons at the upper level.
What Siders did do, however, were all of the little things that don’t always show up in the stat sheets, primarily on the defensive end of the court. All of her offensive numbers also improved from her junior to senior seasons as the Blue Angels produced double-digit wins during each of those two campaigns.
Siders admits that she was a bit overwhelmed when the chance to join a collegiate basketball program came her way, albeit a shot to work her way up from the junior varsity ranks.
Nonetheless, Siders is thankful for the opportunity that the University of Rio Grande had afforded her … and she plans on making the most of the situation.
“I never dreamed that I’d have a chance to play college basketball, so I understand what kind of opportunity this is to further my basketball career,” Siders said. “To have a chance to compete as a college athlete while working on my studies is both humbling and exciting, but I’m looking forward to the challenges that await me.”
The RedStorm are coming off a school-best 30-4 season that ended at the NAIA national championship tournament.
Rio Grande women’s basketball coach David Smalley prides himself on trying to find hidden gems all around the area, and the venerable mentor believes that Siders has all the makings of a diamond in the rough.
“We’re excited to be adding Macey to our program. She’s a great student, she’s comes from a local program with a rich history and she’s headed into a remarkable field that she will do well in. Macey is just a remarkable young lady and we’re excited to see what she can bring over the next four years,” Smalley said. “Macey is going to start out at the junior varsity level, but we use it as a feeder-system to help grow players for the varsity level … and it’s helped tremendously over the years. The sky is really the limit for Macey because she’ll have some time to learn our system and grow as a player over the next four years.”
GAHS girls basketball coach Joe Justice — who recently stepped down after five seasons at the helm — is excited to see someone like Siders receive an opportunity like this. She also becomes the fifth player to head to college under Justice’s tutelage, and he believes Macey’s best is still yet to come.
“Rio Grande is getting a great kid who loves basketball and cares about good grades,” Justice said. “Macey comes in every day and works hard, and she does what she is asked to do. She’s just one of those kids that you love to have around as a teammate, or in my case, as a coach. I think her best years as a player are coming and I think Rio Grande is getting a fine addition to its program.”
Siders understands that nothing about this opportunity will be easy, but she is confident that she knows what she’s getting herself into. It also helps that her support group has taken similar paths in continuing their respective educations.
Macey plans on majoring in Early Childhood Development while trying to become an Intervention Specialist, something that is also as close to her heart as basketball.
With two different passions pushing her to succeed, Siders is ready to take the challenge head-on.
“I am the fourth of four sisters to attend Rio Grande, so it is nice to have them all around for support. I’d say I have a pretty good understanding of what the university has to offer,” Siders said. “I’ve been working with some special needs kids and that’s why I’m pursuing the major that I am. I enjoy helping others and trying to make a difference because I think it helps me become a better person.
“I know that Rio Grande is very respected for its education program and I will be prepared for the future. Getting to play some basketball along the way makes it that much better, even if it is going to take a lot of work. It’s an exciting time and I’m looking forward to it.”
Macey currently owns a 3.4 grade-point average at Gallia Academy. She is the daughter of Leighana Siders of Gallipolis, Ohio.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.