By Anna Kochigina, Special to the News & Eagle
Enid News and Eagle
EDMOND, Okla. —
It will take more than two hip surgeries and a pair of herniated discs to keep Central Oklahoma’s Alyssa Fuxa off the basketball court this season.
“The difference between good and great players is that great players play even when they’re hurt,” said UCO head coach Guy Hardaker. “Alyssa has done this her whole career and her toughness exemplifies our program. She’s the type player a coach talks about in the future. I love her like a daughter.”
“I’m trying to play the role I’m meant to play,” said Fuxa, a senior forward from Garber. “Everyone on the team plays a role, and we all must play our roles and fight in order to achieve greatness. I want to make a difference in our new conference (the MIAA), and I also want to stay healthy.”
And staying healthy hasn’t been easy for Fuxa. She played only nine games as a freshman in 2008-09 because of injury and missed three games the following year before breaking through in 2010-11, averaging 11 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, while playing in all 29 games as UCO advanced to the Sweet 16.
A hip injury that required two operations sidelined Alyssa last season, and she’s battled a painful back problem this fall, but Fuxa is off to a great start in the 2012-13 campaign. She averaged 17.5 points in UCO’s 3-1 start, tying a career high with 28 points in a win over Cameron.
She has hit 26 of 54 shots from the field for 48.1 percent, 2 of 7 from 3-point for 28.6 percent and 16 of 20 from the foul line for 80 percent. Fuxa is averaging 6.5 rebounds and has dished out 10 assists. UCO visits Southern Nazarene tonight.
“Alyssa is the definition of what a teammate is,” said junior guard Jill Bryan. “She is encouraging, and when she plays, she makes everyone else around her better. She’s the first person to give credit to someone else when she does something good. Everyone loves Alyssa and loves to play with her.”
Fuxa said that leadership, competitiveness and confidence are qualities of a good team member.
“I want my teammates to believe in me as I believe in them,” Fuxa said. “Every day, I try to improve not only myself, but also my teammates. I want to better them, and in return it, will better me. I love knowing that my team members are like my family and that no matter what, we will always be there for each other.”
Sitting on the bench last season was hard, but Fuxa found ways to help her team.
“The most challenging thing about being injured and having to sit out a year is to find a role that would benefit the entire team,” Fuxa said. “When I had to sit out, my role was to play a cheerleader, keep the girls motivated and keep them knowing that they could do it.”
Fuxa leaned on the support of her family and teammates to bounce back from her injuries and get back on the court this season.
“My family has always helped me keep believing that I have what it takes,” Fuxa said. “Knowing that my teammates are behind me every step of the way and supporting me and that my coaches believe that I can do it helps a lot, too.”
Fuxa started playing basketball at the age of four. She said ever since she could walk, her parents put a ball in her hands, and from that day, she never wanted to put it back down.
“My dad was an inspiration for me because of his motivation and how much he was willing to work with me from a young age,” Fuxa said.
She credits elementary school coach Lisa Weaver and high school coach Jamie Davis in helping her develop the skills that enabled her to score 2,129 career points at Garber High School and earn All-State honors as a senior. She opted to attend UCO and hasn’t regretted that decision.
“The athletic department does so much for the student-athletes that is much appreciated,” Fuxa said. “I enjoy knowing that I can count on my teammates, coaches and trainers. I believe that the work ethic and team building that Coach Hardaker has instilled upon me and my teammates will benefit us in the future.”
“I love the security that the campus provides and how small the university is. I also think that most of my professors have left an impact on my academic career.”
A general studies major, Fuxa has plans to join the police academy after graduation and wants to become a member of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
Kochigina is a student assistant at UCO.