By RICK PETERSON
Coaches always preach to players that if they work hard enough good things will happen.
Washburn University women's basketball freshman Alie Fulks, a former Shawnee Heights basketball and soccer standout, is proof of that.
Things didn't exactly go the way Fulks envisioned when she originally joined the Ichabods, but the 5-foot-9 guard has no complaints with how things have worked out so far.
The plan was for Fulks to play for the Washburn junior varsity in the 2020-2021 season, but she never got the chance when COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the entire JV season.
But Fulks continued to show up for practice every day with the varsity, got the opportunity to suit up for the Ichabods and even got into two games for Washburn in mopup time.
"At the end of the year I looked back and reflected and I felt like I improved a lot on my game and just as a player in general,'' Fulks said.
Fulks continued to improve over the offseason and has moved into a more prominent role this season, progressing to the point that veteran Ichabod coach Ron McHenry put her in the game in the first half of Wednesday's MIAA opener against the nation's No. 1-ranked Division II team, Fort Hays State.
"I was a little shocked, but as a bench player I'm always ready to hear my name and step into the role that I need to be for the team,'' said Fulks, who played 9 minutes, 13 seconds in the Ichabods' 72-50 loss to the Tigers.
"For sure I was excited to get in there and just help in any way I could with the team. It sucks with the loss, but it's really exciting to hear my name called and get out there and get in the fight with my teammates.''
The highlight of the night came with 4:35 remaining when Fulks canned a 3-pointer from the top of the key for the first points of her college career.
"It was exciting, but we were down pretty good so the first instinct is to get back on defense and try to keep going,'' Fulks said.
Now the goal for Fulks, who continues to see spot duty for the junior varsity, is to keep moving forward.
"Looking back and looking at where I am now, I've just come so far and I'm looking forward to keep improving and helping the team out.''