NEW WASHINGTON — The Division IV Player of the Year in girls basketball is going Division I.
On the heels of one of the most remarkable seasons enjoyed by any Buckeye Central athlete, Emily Siesel earned a preferred walk-on spot at Bowling Green State University.
“I went on a few different college visits and didn’t really know what I wanted,” she said. “But it always came back to me wanting a bigger campus, and I have a lot of family from Bowling Green. My AAU coach (John) Cahill reached out to BG and (Buckeye Central) coach (Abram) Kaple did a lot, too . It just all worked out.”
Siesel is the second athlete from Buckeye Central to earn a preferred walk-on spot at Bowling Green in recent history, following 2016 alumnus Grant Loy.
And she will join a Falcons program quickly ascending the ranks in the Mid-American Conference. And a lot of that is because of coach Robyn Fralick, who just finished her fourth season.
Prior to taking over before the 2019-20 season, Fralick had a coaching record of 104-3 at D-II Ashland University, where she was part of two national championships (2013 and 2017) and two national runners-up (2012 and 2018 ). She joined the Eagles in 2008 as an assistant before taking over head coaching duties in 2015.
“I’m really excited to be there and play under coach Fralick., I’ve had a lot of people come up to me and tell me she’s an awesome lady and a great coach,” Siesel said. “I’m excited for the opportunity to be there and just be a part of the team. It’s going to be something special.”
The interest from Bowling Green came relatively late in the recruiting process after Siesel had made countless college visits while helping the Buckettes to a state tournament appearance.
“There was a lot if interest at the D-II and NAIA level,” Kaple said. “She took a bunch of visits and I was able to join for a few with her and her family. She just wanted a bigger campus, so we talked about it and in order to get that she would have to go DI, which is tough She was patient and said if it didn’t come, then she was comfortable with not playing.
“But patience is a virtue. She continued to wait and wait, and in either late January or early February Bowling Green reached out and asked for our schedule. They wanted to come to a game and chose the Perkins game. I talked to their coach afterwards in my office and they said they really liked her, liked her energy and everything she brings to the table.
“They were willing to take a shot on her.”
A shot is all Siesel needs.
“There are a lot of skilled D-II players and a lot of the skillsets between DI and D-II are similar,” Kaple said. “Typically it comes down to size and athleticism. Emily isn’t overly big, but she’s extremely athletic and she works hard. She put on weight and strength to get to the level she’s at, and she knows going into it she’ll have to continue that.
“If she doesn’t ever see the floor, she’s fine with that, too. But she’s going to go and – just like she did here – put on her hardhat every day, go to work and give the best of her ability to make herself better and the program better.”
And that’s exactly the mindset Siesel has going in. She understands how big of a jump it is going from Buckeye Central, a school with approximately 165 students in grades 9-through-12, to Bowling Green, where she may have some general education classes with more than that.
“Going DI, it’s a much bigger stage,” Siesel said. “But it’ll be fun. At the end of the day, it’s just a basketball game. And I do have some friends going to BG, so just to have familiar faces there will be nice.”
Siesel was Division IV OPSWA All-Ohio Player of the Year, Northwest District co-Player of the Year, District 6 Player of the Year and Northern 10 Player of the Year while earning first-team nods in all this season.
She averaged 17.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 6.4 steals as a senior, shooting 49.7% from the field and 79.1% from the free-throw line. Her 179 career steals in 75 games is 11th all-time in the state of Ohio, and the 17 steals she recorded against Bucyrus on Feb. 5 this year is the fourth most in a single game.
“When I was younger it was always a dream you have to go play at the next level, especially at a program like BG,” Siesel said. “I had to work really hard for it; it was never just laid out for me. I had to work really hard. And this last season was really beneficial for me.
“A lot of hard work and dedication, along with great coaches made this happen. Coach Kaple has done so much for me and reached out to several coaches. This wouldn’t be possible without him.”