Jennifer Stevenson had a hunch her daughter would ultimately choose Abilene Christian University as the destination for her education and continued basketball career.
Before she could see her daughter Alice Stevenson pick a NCAA Div. I school for her future, Jennifer passed away Feb. 22 after a long, five-year battle with a rare form of cancer.
Last week, Alice Stevenson announced her commitment via social media. The Perkins-Tryon junior committed to ACU – proving her original thoughts on the university in Abilene, Texas, wrong and her mother’s intuition to be correct.
“The first time I visited ACU, I told my mom I didn’t think I was going to go there, because it’s so small,” Alice Stevenson said. “I had visited OSU before that and OSU has amazing facilities and locker rooms and it’s huge. Then I visit a small DI and almost like another high school, so I didn’t think I wanted to go there.
“As the months went by, I was getting more interested. She told me it wasn’t about the size, but more about the education, if you wanna play – where you can get the best play time at – and where you can be successful. I know she loved ACU and the color purple. She had a feeling a year ago that I would probably go there, but I didn’t so. In the end, she turned out right.”
Alice Stevenson announced her commitment on Facebook and Twitter. She said, “I am super excited to finally announce that I will be continuing my basketball career, education, and my faith at at Division I college, ABILENE CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITY !!!! I’d like to thank all of my coaches that have put in the time with me, and all of the college coaches who showed interest in me, especially Coach Burnett for pushing me past my limits everyday in practice. And to all of my teammates, and the whole Perkins Community for the love and support they continuously show me. I’d like so specifically thank Coach Ras and her family for always being there for me, pushing me to always better myself, and giving the best advice. Thank you to my brother and sisters for always supporting me. I cannot say thank you enough to my parents for being my biggest fans and always reminding me of the ultimate goal and keeping me on the right track to achieve that goal.”
Alice Stevenson was happy to make her announcement late last week, choosing the Southland Conference program that just won its conference tournament, earning an automatic bid into the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament, where it will face No. 1 seed Baylor.
“One of the reasons was I felt like this was the best university to go to,” Alice Stevenson said. “Also, one of their best players will be leaving when I come in, so I can hopefully take her spot. I’m looking to get a ring at some point in my basketball career, and I think going to ACU will allow me to follow that path to get that goal and ring that I want.
“I feel like the coaching staff is almost like the Perkins coaching staff – they’re great and they’ve made me feel welcome the whole time. I feel like those were the main reasons. Also, it’s close to home. It’s not too far, but not too close – almost right in the middle.”
P-T girls basketball coach Jerry Burnett was happy for his star junior who will return next year to lead the Lady Demons on the court.
“They had been courting her for a long time,” Burnett said. “She was just ready to commit and get that over with, and we’re 100 percent behind her and we support her in everything she does.
“Abilene Christian has been on her pretty heavy. They came and watched her run cross country, and just showed a lot of interest in here. During her mom’s passing, they were there and they showed their support.”
Burnett added that Alice Stevenson has become a do-it-all player who isn’t as aggressive as he’d like because she wants to get her teammates involved.
“She’s gotten better every year,” Burnett said. “The one complaint I have about her is she’s not selfish enough. She wants to have everybody contribute, but sometimes I’d rather have her take control. If I had any complaint with her, I’d like to her to be more selfish with the basketball. That’s just her nature, though, and she’s all about the team. The team comes first with her.”
Alice Stevenson said her junior season wasn’t as good as she wanted it to be, but she dealt with health and family issues. However, she acknowledged that her mental game improved, as she learned to push through the tough times and understand the game better.
The final weeks of the season were tough. While the Lady Demons were battling in the postseason, her mother passed away. Yet, she handled it all.
“It was very difficult, but my mom was my biggest fan,” Alice Stevenson said. “I knew that I could get through the end of the season and I knew it was something she’d want me to do. It kind of made it easier because she was my biggest fan. It was hard, but I knew it was something I needed to.”
Alice Stevenson won’t be able to sign her national letter of intent until November – shortly before her senior season begins. Yet, a weight was lifted with last week’s announcement.
“Just verbally committing and knowing I’m going there is like a big force jumped off my back,” Stevenson said. “It feel like a lot of relief knowing that I’m set and I have somewhere to go. That should help next year be more stress free.”